Friday, June 19, 2009

Baby Steps

First posts are always difficult things, aren't they? First of anything can be intimidating. Like the first time I put a warp on the loom. Or my first spinning class. Or the first time I got the guts to ask money for one of my pieces. Who did I think I was, anyway? I still struggle with that one. But I'm taking baby steps. And so, this blog. Maybe I'll start with how I got to this particular baby step?

Some years ago, I went to college, and got a degree in social work. Then burn out happened, and marriage happened, and kids happened, and I ended up happily being a stay at home mother of two. I turned to crafty projects to keep myself occupied and somewhat sane. The family also joined a historical recreation group called the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), which studied the goings on of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Basically, if someone in the Middle Ages did it, someone in this group is studying and trying to recreate it, and would love to talk your ear off about it. This gave me a focus and an outlet for my artistic dabblings, as well as lots of positive support. Along the way, I learned to spin, to weave, make baskets, glass beads, how to cook a feast for 75 over an open fire, how to teach, and lots and lots of other bits and pieces. We remade the guest room over into a studio. A loom found me at a garage sale, and then a stash of yarn the following weekend. Eventually I was honored with the Order of the Laurel, the group's highest award for artsy stuff.

Well, that was a wake up call. I didn't think I really deserved such a thing. The kids were old enough now, so I went back to school at the local community college, and started taking more formal art classes. I started branching out beyond the limits of what had been done centuries ago, and started exploring more modern techniques. I began modeling for the life drawing classes, to pay it forward. Occasionally, somebody bought a piece of my art work. And it gradually occured to me that I really really enjoy this creative stuff. Maybe...just maybe...when the kids were old and out of the house, maybe I didn't want to go back and get a 'real' job. Maybe I ought to try making a go of the art stuff. I'd been training myself for 16 years. Time to take that leap.

But leaps are scary things. You have to face the fears first. What if I'm not good enough? What if everybody was just humoring me and being nice? Friends and family are supposed to say good things about your work, right? Like when I would draw scribbly things in kindergarten and bring them home for the refrigerator. Or when Grandma would pin my grade school drawings up on her cork board wall.

What if all I do is 'women's work'? Aren't I supposed to do crafty little bits to keep my hands busy, then give them away? What makes me think that anyone would pay for stuff like that? I'm just a house wife, after all.

What if people want me to make stuff that I don't want to do? What if it isn't fun any more? What if I have to specialize into just one art form? Won't I get bored, and lose interest?

Aren't I just being lazy?

Who do I think I'm fooling, anyway?

I was terrified. Stuck in place. But...I really didn't want to work for someone else. I wanted to create, to grab my daydreams and play with them until I can send them out into the world in tangible form. I decided to build a backlog of stock, for the day that I had the nerve to go through with the idea. I spent a few years at that...then decided it was time to inch forward. Maybe if I came at it sideways, or in little managable chunks, it wouldn't be so hard.

And so, I took single steps. A big one was going down town, and registering the business name "Tangible Daydreams". Then getting my tax number, setting up the paperwork with the state and city. That gave me weird shivers for days.

Another step was getting a digital camera, and the software to work with my pictures so people can see what I do.

I got business cards. Holding those in my hand was a very strange experience. Giving them out made me feel like an imposter.

But folks got interested, and seemed to take me seriously. They kept asking where I sold my stuff, if I had a web page.

So...two weeks ago, I opened an Etsy shop, and started listing items. That was terrifying. Now I'd really done it. Now I have to face the possibility that I'm no good after all, that there are so many other people better than me, better liked than me, better at marketing than me (that wouldn't be hard!), I'll never make it, I'll never compete, I'll...I'll...

I'm ignoring that voice.

And taking baby steps.

I can't see the road as it curves around the bend, but I'm walking it now. One tentative step at a time. My dreams are there, and I want to touch them.

Come join me?

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