Friday, July 28, 2006

Another Day, Another (Identity) Crisis

No coffee yet, no music either--no wait, an ambulance just went by and all the dogs are howling. Since two of them are in the house and one is on the back deck I am getting a full stereo experience. The deerhounds are meant to howl--they are hounds, after all. But have you ever heard a cocker spaniel howl? It's a treat.

Yesterday was extremely productive. There is something powerful about the intense focus you get working in a completely neutral environment. Now if I can be half as productive today on the outline I will have it done! But I am back to being a single proprietor again today: got to pick up the piece I inadvertently dropped off at a gallery on Wednesday, need to make up and ship a catalog to a gallery in New Mexico (they saw me at the Buyer's Market and are interested in carrying my work), need to invoice the Art Institute and a commission client, have an order to ship, a piece to fuse for Jeffrey for a sculpture which sold at the Buyer's Market show (to one of the galleries which carries my work), need to write up the firing schedule, follow up on a ship-date for an order and THEN I can work on the book. At least I got my last webpage designed and sent off to the webdesign company.

Final news of the morning, I just got email from an artist I asked to participate in the gallery section of the book. He has been working with glass since the mid-seventies, fusing since the early eighties, was one of the original instructors at Bullseye Glass, and has work all over the world including the Corning Museum of Glass. He also has a book coming out in October on Fused Glass Art and Techniques. My first reaction when I read the email was, "Wow do I feel stupid and I might as well roll up the sidewalk on my little writing project right now." I moved onto a more gracious acceptance of my place in the world with the thought that there is room in the space for my crappy little project book too. I have yet to rise much above that thought despite the umbrage that my spouse took to my choice of adjectives when I voiced my feelings to him.

Why is it so hard for some people--and I am in that group--to steadily and assuredly believe in themselves and the worth of their work? Why is our immediate response to circumstances like the one described above to be threatened or diminished? My work has never been taken to SOFA. I do not have a piece in the Corning Museum of Glass. I have not had a show at Bullseye--I have not even been a finalist in e-merge. I have not had a piece in the Pilchuck auction (of course on that one I cannot really whine as I have not submitted one for consideration). All of these things are success markers in my field. Okay, I was a NICHE finalist the year before last so my professional life is not completely barren of kudos. And being recognized by NICHE was satisfying for, oh, a nanosecond until I started anxting about something I WASN'T getting. And that's the point.

Satisfaction and comfort in oneself do not come from external sources. How many thin women do you know who obsess about their weight and will never see themselves as thin or be happy as they are? What about women of my age who can't see past the newly arrived grey hair, sagging breasts, and wrinkles to the beauty that comes with age, wisdom and confidence? What those of us who tried to hang onto 20 as we marched past 30 and now cling to 30 as we slide towards 50 have never been able to maintain is our self-confidence. I am now mostly over any obsession I might have had with external beauty. Weight is another issue, but I am good with it as I am really quite heavy and physically uncomfortable in my body because of it. Moving right along...

My issues now center on professional competitiveness and recognition. If I were a novelist, I would work towards being Stephen King--New York Times Bestseller, and want to be Michener, Hemingway or Faulkner--Pulitzer. Can it be that I still haven't decided what I want to be when I grow up? Or is it that I just want it all--a financially successful production glass studio with work appealing to and within reach of Everyman and the recognition of my peers, curators and Serious Collectors as a True Artiste? I am having deja vu all over again--this must be a cyclical theme for me. I wish I could just break the cycle, hear the click of who I am snapping together with who I think I am and who I would like to be so I could quit wasting time and emotional energy on a conciliation that isn't happening! (You cannot reconcile that which has never been together in the first place.)

I am still frustrated but feel a little better knowing it's Just Me and now I have to get on with all the (no longer crappy) little details of owning a business on a busy Friday. And there is a place for my little craft how-to book. It will be pretty. It will be a bit fluffy (that due to the publisher rather than me--it is what I have been contracted to do). And it will be helpful, inspirational and valuable to some people. And that's really all you can ask as there are no Pulitzers for glass books and they never end up on the best seller lists, even if they're about or by Chihuly.


Bill Paley said...

Do not succumb to Despair. Adhere to Dream.

Brenda Griffith said...

Never give up, never surrender.

Bill Paley said...

To Infinity and Beyond!