Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Taking the Hack Out

Last week I had the sweetest email from a customer. It said, in part:

"Your jewelry is so exceptional - very quality made - you can tell.  Thanks again for shipping so quickly - can't wait to wear them both to work tomorrow.  Look forward to seeing you at
another show again soon."

I can't tell you what that meant to me. I work from home more than two-thirds of the year. So I'm in the studio most days. Alone. And while I love being alone, sometimes that much isolated time can warp a girl a bit. You start getting a bit to much into your own mind, and the mind can be a treacherous thing when it's not reined in. 

To design and create seems to mean a regular ride of highs and lows. The highs of doing something new, getting over the next bump, to the next rung on the ladder, jumping for joy when something you've put your heart (and your hands) and soul into and it turns out better than you even imagined.

But the lows are unavoidable. Or at least, I haven't found a way to keep them from happening. The voice in your head, which usually is an insidious whisper, a constant stream of sentiments like, "You're not good enough." "Someone else has already done that, and done it better, so why even bother?". "You're just a hack. Everything you do is not worth the effort."...that voice occasionally kicks up to a nearly deafening din in your mind and it's enough to make you give in. Or give up.

Sound a bit dramatic? Ask any creative. We're as filled with doubt, at times, as much as we're filled with joy at other times. When the doubts come, I like to remind myself of this quote:

“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.” Robert Hughes

I hope so!  :)

As I write this, there are only two months left out of the year. And it's had some definite highs...and some serious lows. Right now I feel like I've got one foot on either side of that fence. But lately the Hack Voice (that's its most common refrain, so that's what I call it) seems to be pretty dominant. I *have* noticed that it kicks up a few notches whenever I'm trying something new. Last week I began the work on a bigger, bolder, more "YOWZA" piece of jewelry than I've ever attempted before. And that voice is running at full bore. But what I've learned over the years is that if you can't silence the voice completely (and so far I can't), the best response is something like, "Bite me, I'm going to do it anyway".

just the back of the necklace...for now.  :)

Which is exactly what I'm doing. Working through. This new piece is teaching me quite a lot and even the mistakes are helpful - because they mean fewer mistakes next time.  It's all part of building a relationship with the metal. Learning how and where to heat with the torch. When and where to place the solder. How to minimize the dreaded clean up time. Everything counts...even the pieces that end up in the scrap jar.  :)

The best way to defeat that inner voice is to create. And continue creating. And know that it's all part of the ride. Ups and downs. Top to bottom. The bottom sucks, but the top is ah-mazing, and the low parts are worth it because there will be another high. It's on the way...I'm ready for it.

And if you're just starting out in your creative life, this got me through a lot of doubt at the beginning:

It's been out and about on the 'net a lot, but I don't think it can be shared enough. Read it, remember it, and apply liberally as needed. We're fighting the good fight.  :)

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