I finished the ornaments mentioned in the previous post. I got them boxed and shipped. Feels so good to be working on projects like this.
In September I saw a 'call to artists' post on Tumblr. The vlogbrothers' charity event Project for Awesome was coming up and the team was looking for artists to create perks to be given to people who donate. I'm a fan of the vlogbrothers (individuals and as a duo) and immediately wanted to submit something. I set to work on a couple design ideas. It took some time, but I answered that call with the item pictured above. It's a woodburned ornament with the initialism DFTBA (meaning Don't Forget to be Awesome...it's a vlogbrothers/nerdfighter reference). It was a nervous few days waiting to see if my item was approved. They did! And now my project of the moment is to get 20 ornaments done and mailed by the 21st of this month. Oh, and I'll be sure to add this ornament to the shop when these 20 are done.
I'd forgotten what it was like to work in batches. I'd forgotten how much I like to work through design and production snags. Those problems may keep me awake and be frustrating but they're a pleasurable sort. I kinda missed that feeling of being brain-tired but happy from making. I'll work on holding on to that.
My brother is having a baby! Well, his wife is having a baby. Sister-in-law told me the colors they have planned for the nursery (purple and grey) and said I could make whatever I wanted. I found this yarn, (it's purplish and goes wonderfully with grey) and had to get it...and two skeins of purple that goes with it. These will go with another purple and a grey yarn that I already have. I also bought two other skeins of green-ish yarn to finish another project.
I keep buying yarn. I have 4 big plastic boxes of it already but...I keep getting more. It's pretty...and I'm weak.
It's been a long year. One I can hardly believe is almost over. I'm trying to apply myself to what's left of it.
The last days...maybe a week or so, I've endeavored to create some self-discipline in myself. It's too early to declare it a success or not. I'm doing things, though. I'm crossing things off lists I've had/modified/lost/rewritten many times over the years. It hurts sometimes...to make myself pay attention. It hurts to sit at my desk instead of the floor with my laptop propped on a trashcan. (I needed to try harder.) But I try to tell myself it's worth it. And it does feel good to finish a thing (or a part of a thing).
I'm making new lists, breaking down big tasks, organizing bits and pieces...eliminating redundancies. I'm not perfect. I get distracted...for hours sometimes. I get frustrated, wayward. I'm still officially unemployed. I go to bed knowing most days that I could have done more. My lists still include 'gimme' tasks like 'get up' and 'get dressed'. I still need the easy reward, that simple gratification to get me to tackle the bigger things...the things I've been scared to try.
I want to keep this up. I want to get better. I want to go to bed knowing that, while there will always be more to do, I'm satisfied with my effort that day.
So I'm back here. I'm photographing things again (with my camera, my iPod, and soon a new cell phone). I'm writing again. I'm making again. I'm revisiting old ideas which is birthing new ones. I'm out-of-practice. My creative muscles are easily fatigued. But the workout each day feels good.
When I see the date on anything recently published- Youtube video, newspaper, blog post- my first thought is, "It's not October already. This must be from last year. Or there's some dating glitch. Or..." Then I realize...
We're the middle of the sunset on another year.
Back in May I started drawing. More honestly, I started sketching. I haven't been diligent with it of late but I have been looking for books and blogs on drawing, seeking out pens and pencils, trying tentatively.
I found Helen Birch's Freehand by chance at the library. I was thinking it was a tutorial but it turns out to be more theory (see what the artist did here and here? it's called this). Nonetheless, I let myself enjoy the work of the artists she included and felt a bit inspired to pick up my pens again.
I was testing out old markers much like I had been in this bit of impromptu art. Then I remembered the book and Birch's writing about layering, use of unexpected papers and contrasting color with black or browns. Out came the micron pens (which I love, OMG!) and made a further mess of the squiggles.
I've since taped into my sketch book. I found myself drawn (pun!) to type of abstract and/or geometric drawing. I'm see that through the majority of my crafty work, shapes and colors have been the theme. Though I'd like to keep working at drawing 'real' things I feel most 'me' when I let the pencil(s) or pen(s) flow over the paper and create a shape that is both true to life and not. Maybe in future I'll share a few more as I continue to explore.
I've been participating in VEDA on Youtube. It's been quite an experience, a real test of my patience, perservance and my abilities to stay up very late (and to not have snapped my laptop in half because...OMG, you can't be crashing again!)
Above is the most recent video in which I rave about cereal. You can watch the playlist to see all previous videos. I can hardly believe I'm a person with 20-something videos on Youtube. Video-making has been something I wanted to try again since I made that video for Etsyall those years ago. I'm glad I'm finally doing it.
I haven't been getting much done lately. It doesn't quite make sense because I'm currently unemployed and therefore have 'all the time in the world'. Yet aside from looking for work- which I do diligently- I lose much of the day to inane tasks (read: chores) and timesucks (read: Candy Crush and YouTube). The upside to having no job is having loads of free time but the downside if having none of the money with which to do all the fun things you wanted to do with the free time you didn't have when you were working. *breathe* So there's stress. This gets rather compounded by the piles of unfinished projects that surround me and new ideas that spring up in the middle of the night. It seemed impossible to find a starting place in the tower of tasks so... I just ignored it.
I needed change. I needed to make a list.
Today, while praying before really starting the day (though, to be honest, I had already watched 2 YouTube videos at this point), God said not to make a typical to-do list (as I'm prone to loading it with things I want/can easily do) but to get on paper the 8 million things that circle around in my head daily. Doing this would free up space in my head to actually begin doing work.
So I started. Then a tweetpal tweeted the above video. (I'd add Twitter to the list of timesucks, but...sometimes it helps...kinda/maybe). I clicked it. I won't spoil it. But it soothed me. I'm prone to overanalyzing, wanting to know all the ways a thing can go wrong before doing it (another reason why very little gets done). So to have a sort of immediate validation that I am, at present, proceeding down a viable path, eased me.
Most of the list items require no expense except time. Most of the list items wouldn't take more than a week to complete depending on how consistently I work on them. There are enough of them to keep my variety-loving self amused. These are things I've been avoiding in hopes that... they'd magically get done? I don't know. That by not doing them I was keeping my time open to do other things? That sounds crazy but when locked in my head it made sense... kinda. When the tasks had balled themselves into an indecipherable ball of impossibility, ignoring it seemed the best way. No way could I get all of those things done. And little slightly neurotic me was right. I can't get it all done at once, but marking each task down clearly (or quasi-clearly... my handwriting has gone to pot), I see the possibilities, my brain has room to work... and have already gotten 2 of things done.
My official goal as posted on Goodreads is to read 35 books this year. One of my unproclaimed 'sub'-goals is to read more non-fiction. So while perusing the 'new arrivals' section on my recent trip to the library I found Dani Shapiro's book Still Writing.
I need to own this book. I want to paper my room with its pages. I want to tattoo her words on my body, write them on index cards and tape them around the house to remember them always (the family may not like that last one). I want this book. I'm only on page 30. I'm still at the beginning and I'm usually cautious about falling too hard too fast in love with a book. But this is one of those books that I want to read slowly to savor, but I also want to read it as fast as I can so I can KNOW all that she has to say.
Now, it's true that aside from the 600 some odd posts here on this blog and my 38,000+ tweets I have never had a single thing published. It is also true that beyond a story I wrote for a Christmas event at church, an essay entered in a contest when I was a teenager and the required essay and other writing for English classes I also struggle with getting anything finished. Nonetheless, this book speaks to me. It's a language that I understand in a way that I don't always with books on photography, math and even some crafting or art. It's both validation and provocation. It shows me (instead of only telling) that writing is hard. That there is an inner dialogue, a fight against oneself as much as against the words. That there is a sort of magic in the discovery, a certain pleasure in denying oneself other (easier pleasures) to get the story down...if only we'll take that risk. And a risk it is.
Thirty pages in this, is not a glory-seeking tale of she overcame and won against what she calls 'her censor'. It is not a pep-talking tome to those unsure if they can write, should write, want to write. Books of that type have their place (and I've read them in the past and have liked some). This book, simple and plain-speaking, exploring the triumphs and travails of the creative life, is what I needed now. I'm glad I found it.
I've been hesitant to call myself a writer at all. But given how much my feelings align with what she's describing, given that I haven't fully abandoned this blog (although I only wrote 2 posts last year...what's that about?), given that I still scribble scenes for each of my unfinished projects and add to that pile with new ideas all the time, I think I am one. A messy one, uncoordinated and gangly...but trying. Still writing.