Notes on trying to get it right.
I tend to start the new year with lots of ideas, my head buzzing with plans and an eager anticipation of what’s to come and a belief that with enough energy and force of will I can turn my ideas into a reality. Then January turns out to be a normal month beset by the usual domestic difficulties and I’m left disappointed by my inability to make things happen, you know, disappointed because I meant to be able to use my ‘resolve’ to really do it this time.
Well, already the machinery of my creativity, which can be pretty temperamental at the best of times, has had various metaphorical spanners thrown into its works which seemingly would send this month the way of so many Januaries before. Something different seems to have happened this time though.
Those metaphorical spanners were in real terms a bout of flu which sent me to bed for days, and an ill cat who needed nursing and trips to the vet when I could have been in the studio. The third spanner, and perhaps the largest one of all, although she does have a name and perhaps wouldn’t thank me for re-christening her in this way, is my youngest daughter. She’s had a tough couple of years being poorly and now, understandably has anxiety about getting back to school, so it’s tricky for me to know what I can hope to achieve each day.
But where I might usually have felt ground down or angry with thoughts along the lines of ‘Why can’t I be like Vanessa Bell or another of those arty Bloomsbury women who had a housekeeper and apparently none of these newfangled qualms about having to be a good mother or nice to my family? Why can’t I neglect my children like a proper artist and let them run freely and creatively wild in the neighbourhood gathering ‘issues’ to tackle at length with their future expensive therapist?’ Instead I realise that I love my children and I want to take care of them as best I can and that they are more important to me even than colouring in (which, teasingly, is how my chosen career is often referred to in our house) so I may be a worse artist but a slightly better mother for this choice and I’m happy with that.
Life plans I suppose, like new year plans, don’t necessarily work out how we expect them to. Far better though to go with what comes your way and turn it into something you can use than to fight against it and end up demoralised and exhausted.
Surprisingly, the flu provided me with an unexpected opportunity to sort out piles of paperwork and magazines that were building up around the place and were in danger of turning my house into one of those featured on a channel 4 programme about hoarders where people could only visit by donning caving gear and leaving a trail of breadcrumbs by which to find their way out.
Looking after our accident prone cat who cut his leg has helped me realise that now is not the time to get a puppy, tempted as I am, as it would be far too time consuming. Also, I have a new empathy for what it might be like to be a cat and that, if someone put a white plastic cone around my neck and I couldn’t understand why, I would freak out and somersault backwards off the sofa and fall into the fireplace.
Taking care of my daughters is my top priority and those ambitions for my career in the world of colouring in will just have to fit in alongside as and when. When I look at ‘supermums’ with 6 children and a thriving business I must remind myself that they can do that because of the way they are, the choices they have made but also the hand that life has dealt them. I can muddle along, make it up as I go and repeat the adage that we try to tell the young that I can only do my best.
Finally, and despite all the spanners, I think I’ve done quite a lot this month and I’m able to really appreciate this mainly because of Facebook and Twitter where there is a slightly random, but nonetheless, chronological record of the things I’ve done and made.
For example, I saw a competition on Twitter; entered and won a beautiful book by Mark Hearld. I’ve designed and painted a new sign for the Cygnet Gallery, created a window display, made a few felt pieces, and via my computer made some contacts with other creative business folk. Not too bad considering it didn’t go quite how I’d planned.
And yes, you did read that correctly, I’ve been using Facebook and Twitter and although I find Facebook confusing, I can see its worth. As for Twitter, I have to admit that I am finding it dangerously enjoyable and run the risk of twittering my days away and not actually getting anything made.
I’m still excited about this new year and am looking forward to seeing what February will bring and whether my creative machinery will have a chance to really get up and running this time or whether I will have another month full of the unplanned and be taken off in an unexpected direction.