I intended to write more in this weblog. And I have been writing - I just haven't been writing here.
For the past couple of weeks, I've been putting most of my creative energy into working on my jewelry (see the link to the photo album on the right) and into the writing of an essay that will (hopefully) appear in the upcoming issue of Richmond Health, a smaller publication of Richmond Magazine. The magazine has a column called "My Alternative," and my friend, who is the editor, asked me to write about my experience with an intuitive that I saw last fall as I searched for ways to continue healing after my fourth miscarriage last summer.
This flurry of activity was sparked by two deadlines that had been looming over me. This Friday, March 9th, is the date I had to have my first draft to the magazine, and is also the cut-off for submissions into the Richmond Craft Mafia's Spring BadaBing show. The initial relief I felt in turning in my work ahead of schedule was soon replaced by a flood of anxiety as I realized I was putting my work - little pieces of myself - in the public eye, to be judged by a world of strangers.
I've been making jewelry for over a year. Since I left the world of full-time employment in December, this creative act has become a moving meditation for me. I have also realized how it is a microcosm of my larger world and the way I have tended to approach my life. Somewhere along the line, I became very intent on having it all figured out (ha!), needing to know what comes next, and focusing on where I was going to end up when I set out on a path. Closure was my focus. I have lists - lots of lists - and one of my little pleasures is crossing things off and moving on to the next item. I've also struggled with the idea of "waste." It makes me intensely uncomfortable to think I'm wasting time, energy, money, or materials without something to show for it. You can probably guess how these little obstacles might hinder the creative process.
So, several months ago, my coach gave me an assignment. She asked me to just play, to just see what happens when I twist wire or place beads together with no particular idea of what the outcome will be. She encouraged me to buy some wire with the intent of just practicing technique. "Just see what happens," she urged me.
She was right. For the first time in my life, I'm starting to see myself as a creative person. I can hardly pull myself away from my studio. I've been enjoying the process so much, that sometimes it's hard for me to even finish a piece because ideas keep popping into my head. One thing leads to another, and before I know it, my every available space on my worktable is covered with the little bowls that hold my beads and half-strung necklaces.
The same thing happened when writing the article. I had trouble even sitting down to write. All I could think about was that this intensely personal experience was going to appear in a magazine read by half the city. Although I've been writing in my fertility weblog for well over a year, this felt different.
But then something happened. I consciously tried to approach my writing with the same mindset that I now bring to my jewelry. And it worked! Before long, I was well over my 800 word limit. My writing became not about my word choice or how the words flowed on the page, but about the process. One idea led to another, and I was caught in a whirlwind of typing and jotting down notes about weblog posts and art projects on scraps of paper.
Yesterday morning before I headed to work at the acupuncture clinic, I emailed the story to the editor. When I turned on my computer this afternoon, I found an from her email waiting for me. She said she had a few questions about the article, which she had noted in the document attached to the email. When the attachment wouldn't open, a wave of panic washed over me. I immediately assumed that she had changed her mind about running the article, that she didn't like my approach, that I sounded like a flake. I started to ask myself how I could have agreed to do this.
And then I got the attachment to open through a different program. I breathed a huge sigh of relief to see that she only had a few suggestions on wording and requests to expand a couple of ideas. My ego remained intact, and I am thankful to have such a gentle guide through this process.
For the past few days, I've had similar anxieties regarding my jewelry. While my intent in submitting my creations for consideration was simply to flex my courage muscles by putting my work out there, often, I feel like the focus has shifted to whether or not I will be accepted. I worry that my developing creative spark will be snuffed out instead of stoked into a brightly burning flame. I know that my challenge through all of this will be to continue to nurture my creativity despite how it is received - or passed over - by others. You see, these endeavors have become a trapdoor into my soul, leading me to a richer understanding of myself and a deeper faith in my potential. I am determined to keep that little door open, pushing it wider, creating more space as I go along.