Well, one of us seemed to be. Quite a cozy little nest she made for herself, eh? I, on the other hand, didn't look anywhere near this cute during the last week and a half that I spent next to this thing on the sofa, blowing my nose, downing my Airborne, coughing my head off. All better now, but jeesh -- that was not too fun.
Wednesday was fun, though. The lovely Amy from Angry Chicken, my blogging inspiration, sent her readers over here, which was so nice of her. Amy is pretty much entirely responsible for my having a blog at all, and I barely know her. I met her in real life a couple of months ago when I was interested in carrying some of her cards at Ella Posie, and she stopped by to drop them off.
I didn't do a lot of internet surfing (other than struggling to keep my own sites up, which seemed like more than enough, somehow) until a couple of months ago, when I bought a laptop and we got wi-fi at the new Ella Posie. Um, wow. Now I get it. Previous to that, I would look at people's sites and blogs occasionally, but think, every time, "How do people find time for this?" When I got the laptop, and the wi-fi, and found myself in the shop with several quiet hours on hand every day when customers weren't in and chores were completed, I discovered where I might find the time to explore this medium -- at work, of course. Now I see! The craft blogs are so beautiful. I've been a subscriber to Martha Stewart Living since 1994. When I was younger, when I lived with roommates and only dreamed of having my own house, I used to spaz out every month when the issues would arrive. I'd retreat to a corner of whatever university coffee shop I haunted, and spend hours going over the pages, dreaming. The craft blogs feel to me the way that MSL did once -- like indulgences, collections of dreams, representations of the best kinds of creativity and inspiration. They're also just so very sweet, and everyone who writes and reads seems so kind and sweet -- that really appeals to me.
Anyhow, as I've mentioned in a previous post, by the end of this summer, I felt fairly shredded. I also felt a distinct disconnect starting to happen between who I am and want to be, and what it takes to have a successful little crafty business, especially when that business is something you used to do just for fun and relaxation. Turning what you love into what you do full-time for a living results in some tricky maneuvering, as we all know (or can imagine), and all artists struggle with this, sometimes more, sometimes less, as things progress. The constant pressure of making enough money to support oneself looms daily, for the reality is that if you can't support yourself by doing what you love, you won't be able to keep doing it. As much creative energy necessarily goes into keeping the bills paid as goes into cooking up new adorable product lines -- sometimes more, if you want to know. A product starts as a creative idea, but quickly becomes limited by reality: If you are to make a living financially by making the thing, that thing needs to be developed affordably, produced in (albeit limited, but still, the fifteenth one you make is nowhere near as fun as the first one you made, I'm sorry) quantity, marketed, and sold, all while retaining the highest quality of craftsmanship and style. This is not easy. And whether or not I'm successful in my Posie-ish endeavor truly remains to be seen. It is an expensive job to have, financially. It is the ultimate job to have, creatively. The struggle to balance those two . . . situations . . . is a struggle I wage daily. I don't share the struggle part with many people: To other designers or creative types, it is obvious and just kind of comes with the territory. To other people who have "regular" jobs that they don't particularly like and are dreaming of doing what you do -- well, when you're doing what you want to do and they're not, they are not too into hearing you complain, for whatever reason. And I can understand this, too -- I am reluctant to complain. But I think of the monologue not so much as "complaint" as an exploration of solutions, a constant effort to seek a better way, to make it work. . . .
But anyway, as I was saying, at the end of my not-too-gracefully-endured summer, sweet Amy came into the shop one morning. We chatted about her blog and she told me that I should do one, too. It was shocking to be encouraged in this way, as if I could participate. It hadn't even occurred to me. I quickly said that I might consider it if I could do it in the service of the business, blah blah. As it came out of my mouth, I wanted to run screaming away from myself. I could see I was scaring my new friend. She hadn't known that I was a corporate automaton, apparently unable to consider doing anything that wasn't somehow in the "service of the business." I started to back-pedal and make excuses, but I got confused; however, an awareness of something was creeping in.
"Well," she said, "it's really good if it can come from the heart."
Now, I don't know if you've met Amy, but this girl glows with sincerity and generosity, and the beauty she creates and represents in her blog is wholly apparent in her person. She radiates. Not everyone has this, but Amy does, and the effect that it had on me was profound. I suddenly couldn't remember the last time I'd done something that wasn't for Posie, the business of Posie, somehow, and I realized that I couldn't even remember how to do something that wasn't "work"-related, because all the creativity and even fun that I have is funneled into the business. (Occasionally, I go bowling, because it feels like the absolute opposite of owning a boutique and manufacturing a product line. )
My response was so automatic I hadn't even realized that I was thinking in this way, because I always feel so behind. There are always so many things to do and not enough time to do them that I simply couldn't imagine allowing myself to do anything fun or creative that didn't have some end work-related purpose. What really alerted me further was the suspicion I'd been having that I wasn't happy -- but I hadn't spent much time trying to figure out why (too busy). I'd thought it was just that I wasn't working hard enough and that I was worn out from feeling so "behind" in all the things I need to do to keep Posie happening, even though I truly felt like I was working all the time. But perhaps it was that I was working in the wrong way.
That afternoon I went to the TypePad web site and figured out how to put the page together with the sole intention of doing something just because I felt like it. I decided that I wouldn't care who read what I was writing (in case they didn't like it), I wouldn't care what they thought about it (in case they thought it was stupid), and I would allow myself the opportunity to make room in my life for doing something just because it was fun. I would make some room for making things just because they're fun to make, for sharing things when and how I wanted to, in a different way from the sometimes relentless burden of the actual Posie and web site, from the thick-skin you have to build up when you have a retail store and you're there selling (or not selling, as is often the case) your own work to people directly day after day.
I do believe that all my work comes from my heart -- of course I believe this. What I do is, in a million ways, a labor of love, a labor I toil at in earnestness, with the best of intentions, to the very best of my abilities. I honestly know I couldn't do any better than I am trying to do, and I'm very proud of what I've put together. But I know that part of making it work means continuing to love it, and that may mean a little less work, and a little more play. In this one place, at least, I'm here to play. And it feels really great. Thanks, Amy. I really needed that.