Growing

maple

I am learning lots of new stuff at the moment: more about pattern design in Photoshop, more about drawing, more about watercolour and about learning to sew. (I’ve owned a sewing machine for several years, but until recently, it was never let loose from its cupboard. It is becoming a friend rather than an enemy to be feared.)

I am a serial learner. I can’t stop. I have some kind of addiction to acquiring new knowledge. Not facts necessarily, but know-how. This is a good thing, generally speaking. But it means that I am constantly a beginner, and that can get a bit frustrating now and then. All I can see is how far I have to go, rather than recognise the ground that I have already covered.

I came across this quote by writer, Ira Glass, a while ago. I find it reassuring, and I think it applies to any creative pursuit, not just writing.

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

The photo is of one of my favourite trees in the garden, a Japanese acer. I love the red shoots and orangey-pink first leaves that will later turn to green.

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7 thoughts on “Growing

    • Nice quote isn’t it, Rosemary? I go through phases when the work is going well, and other phases when I feel stuck, as I’m sure everyone does. I have come to the conclusion that the only way out is through, and to just keep doing the work.

  1. Great photographs Sue 🙂
    I read that quote a few weeks ago and have to say it is quite true – damn my good taste….Well I say that but without my good taste I wouldn’t be here on your great blog 🙂
    Stew.

  2. Pingback: Painterly patterns | A creative place to be

  3. Finding a unique style only comes through lots of hard work and many, many mistakes, it’s why I hate the question “How long did it take you to do that?” I am always driven to create as the next piece is going to be better, it’s what keeps me going, though I have to say I too am often tempted to give up as sometimes it’s a struggle, but there is such pleasure in the making!

    • Thank you, Vicky – you’ve hit the nail on the head. I think you just have to keep doing the work, and sometimes you like the outcome and sometimes not. I think the answer to ‘how long did it take you to do that?’ is probably ‘a lifetime’ 😉

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