“Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” – Confucius
I’m not crazy about the word “work”, it carries a stigma of drudgery. But it shouldn’t really, there are plenty of non-drudge ways to use the word “work”, like when referring to your life’s work, as in that which you do with passion and leave as your legacy. I want fiber arts to be my work, to be that which sustains me both monetarily and in personal fulfillment, but so far, that hasn’t exactly happened. It’s not that I don’t work at it, I knit and crochet nearly every day, and I’m always coming up with exciting new design ideas. But something just isn’t working.
I think a lot of artists that fail do so because they worry that others won’t take their work seriously, that nobody will want what they create. I suspect my problem is that I don’t take myself seriously enough. I’ve had many friends, family members, and even complete strangers compliment my work, and yet somehow this hasn’t provided proper motivation to get my work out there. I’ve made a few false starts, I’ve learned a few lessons about starting a small business, I even got a modest amount of funding to make it happen . . . and all I have to show for it are a few prototype designs and a blog describing burnout.
So it’s time to start taking myself seriously. Designing fairy wings and other whimsical creations out of yarn isn’t a “typical” job with a “typical” boss and “typical” ways of disciplining employees that don’t take the job seriously; I am my own boss, and I have to hold myself accountable for what I want to get out of my work.
When I was about 10, I wanted to be an architect. I had this “architectural stamp set” that consisted of geometric shapes that you could use to make simple designs of building facades, and I loved creating whimsical castles and Art Deco skyscrapers. My childhood best friend told me if I really wanted to be an architect, then I would have to be able to follow client directions as well as design to please my own aesthetic, and she started giving me “assignments” with deadlines, to give me a feel for what it would be like to be a real architect. I had fun with this game for a few days, but then I got tired and bored of it. My friend said I wouldn’t make it as an architect if I just quit on projects because I was bored with them, but at the time I didn’t take it that seriously. I was only 10 and to me it was just a game.
Now it’s over a decade later and it is time for me to take my work more seriously. And that doesn’t mean that I have to turn it into a job of drudgery, but I should at least afford myself enough respect and discipline to do the work well – to get projects completed, to turn design ideas into reality, and to get my work out there so that others can enjoy it and I can support myself the way I’ve always wanted.
So I’ve started giving some serious thought about what taking myself seriously even looks like. How do I put forth genuine effort to achieve what I want, without turning my work into “work”. I thought joining the Year of Project blog-along would help by giving myself a set of goals to reach for and a built in blogging/crafting community for support, but that just turned into a monthly to-do list that stressed me out when it didn’t get done. It seems like a balance needs to be struck, between creative freedom and personal discipline. And I think I’ve got a few ideas of how to get started, so watch this space! It’s about to get seriously creative and seriously fun around here.