On Process and Goals

Now that the Art Together e-zine is a Real Thing, out in the world, I want to share a bit about how it came to be. (The giveaway is still open, by the way.) Mainly I want to share because I see so many creative people doing really amazing things, and I see probably an equal number of creative people wondering how. Pretty much everybody has these awesome ideas and creative energy, and honestly, I want to see what everyone comes up with. I want everybody’s passion and unique take out in the world, because the more I see of it, the more awed I am. There is all sorts of amazing-ness going on.

So, getting to Monday was a loooong process. I think I first had the idea of publishing “some sort of e-book” while I was taking Stephanie Levy’s Creative Courage class back in January 2012. I’d signed up for the class with the goal of figuring out where I wanted to take my creativity; I ended up diagnosed with Lyme Disease the month before the class began, and my energy was incredibly low. Some of the assignments were hard for me. Take, for instance, the “wish jar.”

Wish jar, early 2012.

I’m not really a “put it out into the universe” type of person. I’m more of a “let’s make a list and a plan” person. But I tried to come up with some things to put on my wish tokens, which, at least, were awfully cute. Before writing this post, I dug them up and took a photo of them.

Wish cards from early 2012.

I cheated a little bit–when I wrote these, I’d already registered for Squam and I’d signed up for a screen printing class. That class was cancelled, so I still don’t know how to screen print, and I haven’t managed the one in the center bottom row, either (“Begin an organization to provide handmade to kids in shelters”), yet, anyway. But all the rest of these…I’ve been working on. But notice, I first thought of something like an e-book over a year and a half ago.

In early 2012, I shot the idea down. I figured I didn’t have enough reach to sell any copies, I was getting frustrated trying to blog about process-oriented art when crafts-for-kids seemed to be what was really wanted, and Lyme and its treatment were sapping all my energy anyway. I had the idea, and I put it away. But it didn’t go away. I started 2013 with a three-part series on why process-oriented art is so important. This was so easy to write; it’s something I’m so passionate about. I still wanted to inspire and encourage open-ended art experiences for kids.

I decided to enroll in Diane‘s online class on e-book production. (It’s not currently offered, but she has an e-book–of course!–on the same subject.) I followed that up with her online class on online classes, and both of those helped me focus some of my ideas. Diane, by the way, is a great teacher, very hands-on and helpful, even once the class is over, and I feel very lucky that I had a chance to take these classes from her. Because of them, I realized I had to upgrade my website from free WordPress if I wanted to sell anything directly. The more I looked into doing anything, the longer the to-do list became.

To be honest, this was all scary. I’d always resisted paying for a blogging platform because I wasn’t making any money! And figuring out how to self-host? And exporting my old blog? It seemed like so much tech to figure out. I broke it all into baby steps (a la Lori Pickert) and tackled it bit by bit. I emailed Diane with questions, because she’d offered to help. I asked questions on Twitter, and people helped. Just asking for help was a huge thing for me, not something I’d historically done. I’d always hesitated to bother people, but you know what? Most people are happy to help. And if you ask someone who is passionate about their own work for some assistance, you’re doubly likely to get not only help but encouragement.

Before wrapping up–because I’m going on a bit–I’ll tell you that before I hit publish on the first {Art Together} post in February I had a staring match with my laptop. Who do you think you are? demanded the voice in my head. I mean really, did I have any authority whatsoever to suggest a certain approach to anything? Me, with my art minor (not a major) and my untidy house and my continued aspirations to be a patient, centered mama–continued, because I often fall short. Who did I think I was? Reader, I hit publish anyway (after a few deep breaths). I told myself, kind of apologetically: I’m really passionate about this. Sorry, I can’t help it. I have to let it out into the world.

There is more, of course. More asking for help, more divvying up tasks into the tiniest chunks possible, more figuring out tech, more asking for help…and along the way, I Got Things Done, sometimes incrementally, but still, forward progress was made. I talked back to the doubting internal voice. I learned a whole heck of a lot. I got so much better at asking for help! But the point is, it wasn’t a quick process, and the whole venture feels very out-on-a-limb still, but the passion for it carried me through. The researching and writing were fun, and I feel like it’s very unique to me, that is, that only I could have created this particular thing. And that’s how it is with most everything–we all have this unique stew of ideas and passions, skills and motivations, and what comes out, in whatever form, can’t be made by anybody else. Which is why, of course, you have to do it, even if it takes a really long time and you have to talk sternly to your inner voice and undoubtedly gain new forehead wrinkles while frowning at the tech to show it who’s boss.

So that’s my pep talk, of a sort. I’m not sure it’s all that peppy, seeing as how the take-home message is that it wasn’t easy but it was do-able. I think it’s important to give a glimpse of the machinery behind the curtain, though, to show that the folks who are putting something out there–knitting patterns, online classes, e-zines, whatever–don’t have some magical quality or scads of self-confidence (who do you think you are??) or anything anybody else doesn’t have, unless perhaps it’s pure stubbornness. I just think we’re all so capable of awesomeness. I love when people dust off their passion, shine it up, and share it with the world.

10 thoughts on “On Process and Goals

  1. karen

    it’s a great pep talk and I know you will have fun doing this and it will be successful. I have ideas swirling around in my head but haven’t acted on them as of yet. Now’s the time to put it down on paper and flesh out some possible goals.

  2. Jen

    Great Pep Talk! Reminds me of the saying “If it’s easy, it’s not worth doing.” Or something to that effect! I am so proud of you & the Art Together e-zine. And I am SO HAPPY you are sharing your knowledge in this area. It’s helping me tremendously. This isn’t my forte in creativity & you’ve given such great guidance.
    (And if you ever want to seriously start work on that organization to get handmades to kids in shelters. Let me know. That’s something that I’ve seriously considered the past few years but have no idea where to jump off of)

  3. Karen

    I’ve just finished reading the zine cover to cover and it’s a triumph. I’m so glad for that voice that wouldn’t let you quit. And behind the scenes is helpful! There are stumbling blocks for any venture, but why should each of us reinvent the wheel when there are guideposts along the say. (I think I’m mixing my metaphors, but you know what I mean). Thanks for sharing your journey and some of the resources you tapped into to make it possible. I’m already looking forward to issue #2!

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