The inside of my head is a cacophonous place to be right now. There’s just so much jangling around in there, so many decisions to be made. That’s the challenging side of the freedom I have right now: there’s no one around to tell me with certainty which direction I should go, and a nudge from a trusted advisor would be welcome sometimes, when there are too many choices to see clearly the costs and benefits of each one.
Thanks, candle. That’s very helpful.
Last year was all about diving in. I started taking my Etsy shop seriously. I learned to weave and to needleweave, to find pockets of wilderness on my bike, to operate a higher-quality camera. I explored- both in physical space and in my own mind and with my own hands. I made a lot of things. I attended my first craft fairs, sold my first items to people in person, and learned a great deal about the business end of being a person who makes things. I took leaps last year and was honestly a bit surprised at how solid the ground was on the other side, then took some more leaps just to be sure.
I think 2014 is going to be a year about bringing it together for me. I’ve explored and learned and had a great time doing it; the question now is, what do I do with all this experience, this creative energy, this freedom? Now that I’ve established myself in this place where I’m learning and growing, what will I make of it?
Madame Clairevoyant, in-house astrologer for The Rumpus’s Tumblr and much-beloved of many of my friends, had this to say for my sign for 2014:
“Aries: This is going to be a year for fitting the pieces of your life together, for making sense of a messy world, for finding places where you can fit, places where you can live, places that let your weirdest dreams start to breathe. This year is going keep you in motion, keep you working—the world won’t give up anything easily, this year, but it will reward your work and your curiosity and your kindness. Spend time talking on the phone this year, spend time writing long wild letters, spend time listening to people you love.”
Now, I’m not an astrology buff; I’m as agnostic about that as I am about religion. But especially as a past student of religion, I’m fascinated and drawn in by the ways that people make meaning even in things that might not be scientifically true. And in this case, that first line speaks to me so hard- it’s beautifully written, and no matter what zodiac sign is appended to the beginning of it, it calls out to me as a way to elucidate my own goals. I want to fit the pieces of my life together and make something out of all these lovely things I’ve collected and scattered around me with a vague sense of purpose. I want to work hard- to be able to work hard, if I can, because that’s not always in my control- and I want my hard work to shape something that others can see and that, most importantly, feels right to me. The stars may have no bearing on my life at all, but this little paragraph feels right. It’s the meaning I want to make, and it’s important because of that.
I have a few ideas about where I’m headed. There’s my art-school application and, even if that doesn’t work out, a commitment to taking more of the art classes and workshops that are available in my community. My first, a workshop about printing and painting on fabric facilitated by artist Merill Comeau, is in a few weeks, and I’m very excited about that. I feel more rooted as an art-maker this year, firmer in my identity, more ready to talk to others about the work I make, more willing to stand strong and prioritize creativity in whatever shape my life takes this year. I’ve done a lot of compromising over the past few years, but no more; now it’s my time to make my life what I want it to be.
And then there’s my Etsy shop. While I’ve enjoyed my online and in-person selling experiences this year, I’ve also been thinking about how a lot of the pieces I have for sale there are neither one thing nor the other- not full-scale immersive pieces of fiber art like I’d like to create, and not useful objects that are easier to sell easier. I think what I need to do is create a stronger divide between the pieces I create for business purposes and the pieces that I really pour my heart into, which are large, time-consuming, and generally less conducive to being sold.
Balancing creativity, the desire to make things by hand, and business sense is a difficult thing, but I can see myself using my Etsy shop as a hub for art projects that are still unique and still come from my heart, but are easier to fit into other people’s homes and lives. I’m very fond of my handwoven and embroidered pillows, and those have sold fairly well. Those are things I can create at a price point where I’m not locking out a ton of folks, and that would let me make fiber art, which is such a tactile experience for me as the creature, also a tactile experience for others. (Nobody normally comes up and squooshes your framed wall art, right?) Enough people have told me that they like my style that I’ve started to appreciate it better myself, and I can see my Etsy as a cultivated brand of home goods, edited to serve a particular market, and existing alongside my more “serious,” long-term art projects. Along those lines, I should really get back into the craft-fair circuit and continue learning more about that world.
I don’t feel like I’m in the right place yet to make resolutions or set more specific goals for the year as a whole. A lot depends on what happens with my application; if I’m accepted and decide to attend in the fall, that will obviously reshape my life a great deal, and will also involve us moving to a different area and me learning to drive. (Yes, I don’t know how to drive. It’s a long story.) But I know this: last year was a year for leaping forward, this year is a year for standing still. Last year was a year for risk, this year is a year for calculation. Last year was a maelstrom, but this year, I am standing still, building my home, building my life. Putting down roots that can’t be easily pulled up by a storm. Building myself.