When you quit your day job to pursue an artistic career, it’s really easy to have happy little visions of getting to snug up in your studio and play all day. All the blogs and books and professionals tell you it just isn’t so, that it ain’t all play time, and I am discovering that they would be right.
There are days where the mundane tasks keep me out of the studio and I feel desperate to get in. There are days where I get into the studio and have a stretch of hours ahead of me, and can’t think of a single creative thought. Learning to balance these extremes is a process.
Now, on one hand, I’ve never been so happy to do a job in my whole life. I love it and I’m having so much fun. But it’s also a slog some days, just like any other job, and that part was really surprising to me. Who knew that there would still be times when I would rather not work at all? Well, duh. What was I thinking? Who doesn’t have those times? What I’ve realized is that those would be the times that I need to give myself a swift kick in the ass, because nobody else is going to do it for me. There’s no boss to pull me up short if I start to slack. It really doesn’t matter if I don’t feel like making 20 pairs of earwires that day. If they want made, I need to make them. Period.
The fact is, you just have to do the work.
What I keep telling myself is that I’m building a body of work. I’m learning as I go. As the stock in my inventory grows, as I figure out my displays and branding, I am building something solid and real. It’s worth the work. So worth it. It’s a constantly evolving, surprising process.
Today I got really discouraged because I’ve taken a short break from updating my Etsy every day, and I’ve been making show inventory. For what feels like days, really. I finally put up my new display racks to see how they would look on my show table. As I set it up, I realized that I only had enough earrings to fill up about 2/3 of one rack… and I’ve got two racks to fill. My heart sank. It felt a little like when you’re knitting a second sock and all the stitches feel like they are going into a black hole. Right now, filling up those racks feels like throwing jewelry into a black hole.
My job is to keep filling until those racks are suddenly, surprisingly, full.
And then? I need to keep going.
Because I am building something, and it’s worth building well.
Somehow, at the end of the day, that feels a little more meaty and satisfying than the 24/7 playtime I imagined this would be when I started.