I did two art shows earlier this summer. Another time I’ll write in greater detail about how they went, but for now, I’ll say that one was a solo watercolor show at a local boutique, and the other was a group art/craft fair where I drew live portraits. I also sold original watercolors and prints at a small craft fair last December. Before that, if I recall correctly, I think my last public work of any kind (not counting this blog or social media) was this short piece that went online in October 2017. Three events, including my first-ever solo show, within a roughly half-year period would have been a big deal even before I became a parent, but now, when so much of my life is consumed with my toddler? It feels as huge as being on TV.
Whenever I have a moment like this — and somehow it seems like these events always do come in groups — I always feel like my creative career (if we can call it a career, which I’m never sure I can) would now be ready to go somewhere if only I could get things together enough to seize the momentum. But it never happens like that, partly because I don’t have enough work to keep it going, but also because I don’t have the stamina. I don’t know if it’s defeatist or just realistic to accept that I am not doing the constant, now-this-now-that hustle and chase of a freelance writer; I am not cloistered in my studio producing output to submit to galleries; nor am I really doing anything else with my work in a consistent fashion. And I wasn’t, even before I had a kid. For one thing, I don’t have to, for income or funds. But in addition, my creativity seems to go through intense cycles of productivity and rest, just naturally — and, because I work both visually and in words, it’s quite hard for me to get momentum on either of those pursuits because I’m always going back and forth between them.
I made myself a sort of pact, some months or years ago, that I would allow myself, in this so-intensive time of early parenting, to take things slow and not get stressed about what else I am (or am not) doing with my life. I get overstimulated easily, and I need a lot of time to process. It makes a lot of sense that, for me, parenting just has to be central right now — or, rather, parenting cushioned by as much self-care as I can muster. But I still wonder sometimes if I’m unwise to not grab harder onto these stretches of creative-career opportunity when they arise; I wonder if someday, decades into the future, I’ll look back on all these disparate moments and conclude that I could have done (been) more if I’d only tried harder to seize each wave.
But then I also think, sometimes, that this stop-and-go pattern is my momentum, and that someday all these seemingly disconnected pieces willcome together and we’ll discover that I was working toward something bigger all along — something so big, in fact, that such long rest periods are required, because my maturity and skill and self-understanding need decades to grow toward the kind of work that I’m here to do.
Anyway, what I also know is that learning to do something looks like not doing it [in the link, look for the section that starts with Katy saying “I think back to my kids”]. So now that, after a very busy spring and summer, I look like I’m doing nothing except writing these short blog posts and occasionally making drawings, well, I think that’s OK.
I think you are growing more mellow and accepting of your “limitations”….and this is definitely a positive thing for your mental health. I’ve always liked the adage that says, “yes, you can have everything, you just can’t have it all at once”. You have a whole big life to live and there will be different stages. In the meantime, I’m loving your 500 word blogs and your Owl stories. You have always been an amazing writer!
Thank you, dear Sherry! I’ve been really enjoying these short posts too. They feel just right for what I can manage right now… and I also like them as little snapshots of my life.