Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Diary of a Trailblazer: The Story So Far

This past Thursday was my last day at my job.  Then came the requisite celebrating 'til the wee hours, after which I spent Friday recovering from the celebration and generally slacking off.  And then it was the weekend, so I hung out with The Boy.

Which means yesterday and today have been my first "official" days as a full-time artist.

Not to brag or anything but yesterday was freaking awesome.  I spent most of the day alternately tidying the apartment and painting some fake fried eggs, with Seinfeld DVDs providing a bit of company.  Then I went for a little walk to the store, bought a chocolate bar, and lounged around on a park bench eating the chocolate and watching people go by.  It was humid outside (and would eventually rain) but the temperature was milder than it's been in a long time and it was so, so lovely to just sit there quietly enjoying the almost-Spring weather and letting my mind wander.

After my walk, The Boy and I snuggled and watched some episodes of Dexter season 4 that we'd rented, and that was lovely, too.  But oddly, when it was just about bedtime, my brain started racing.  I think I was starting to freak myself out over the whole "I have to get a bunch of art done soon so I don't starve and die" thing.  And then I freaked out about freaking out because I know that freakouts paralyze me so that I can't get anything done and hence my "what if I don't end up making any art tomorrow?" thoughts could end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

It took me a long time to fall asleep.

Today, I slept in later than I'd intended to.  I'm not sure if it was a crash from all the chocolate or if I was just afraid to get up and face the day, but I eventually did get up...and I immediately started making a batch of fake bacon.  Later, I went to the hardware store and got some things I need for my business.  So that's good, right?  I spent pretty much the whole day doing stuff.  And yet, when I got home from the store, I felt grouchy and told The Boy I hadn't been that productive.

I think I know what the problem is; I did make some fake bacon today, but it took longer than I wanted.  I've been pushing myself to PRODUCE!  PRODUCE!  PRODUCE! because I want to have an assload of stuff to upload to my store, but my art is not a mass-production sort of endeavor.  Even my bacon slices aren't identical since I hand-paint a different pattern of fat-stripes on each one.  I need to realize that I'm an artist, not a factory - and budget my time accordingly.

Besides, in pressuring myself to be all FASTER FASTER MORE MORE, I'm killing all the fun.  Art only brings me to the happy place when I'm calm and focused and not thinking about anything but what I'm doing.  Today felt like a bust because my inner drill sergeant kept yelling in my ear and wrecking everything.

So, this evening I set about making another batch of fake bacon - this time without any particular deadline in mind.  I put on some mellow tunes and let myself get totally absorbed in the task at hand, and y'know what?  I think I finished this batch at least as quickly as I finished the one from this afternoon.  Berating myself for being too slow may actually have been impeding my progress!

And really, if I'm not enjoying the creation process, what's the point?  I quit my office job in order to lead a more fulfilling life.  If I spend every day meticulously measuring my productivity and comparing it to some arbitrary standard, that's just office work again...but for less pay.

It is important that I get a lot done in the coming weeks...but I'll measure my success by how much of my day I've spent creating art, not how many pieces I've finished.

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