Wednesday, August 13

Enjoying freedom

Alright it is finally time for me to write this post. I've been thinking about it for a little while and after reading Ron's blog this morning and shooting over to Joy's blog from there it got me thinking. In the past it was very hard for me to get into the studio. To be quite honest I just wasn't enjoying what I was doing. There's a lot of in between stuff and stages to making pots that aren't always glamorous or fun at all. My biggest issue, okay really two I think are these. One, I hate having goop on my hands. I don't like my hands being wet, or having sticky stuff on them. Even when I make bread or cook I can't wait to wash, and then dry my hands. It's not a phobia, I just find it gross. Can you imagine having this feeling and being a potter? I am finally, after working day after day for some time now, thankfully reaching a point where it doesn't freak me out as much.

I think my second issue that I was facing was fear. I have often had the habit in the past of quiting something before I became truly successful at it. I honestly think I avoided success which is another strange state to be in, because to be quite honest, I usually accomplish what I set my mind to, and accomplish it well. This goes back a long way. I remember being in fifth grade and during gym class we were running a race. A few laps around and it was me and Mike-and I was ahead. Probably not 30 feet from the finish line, I threw the race. It was just an automatic thing. I literally just threw myself to the ground like I couldn't go on anymore-which wasn't the case. I would have won. I think about that day occasionally still and wonder what it means, and more importantly, I wonder if I had allowed myself to cross the finish line that day if I might have later finished some other things as well.

I totally understand and agree with the difficulties of working in a studio alone. It is wonderful and difficult at times to be your own boss. And the thing I keep telling myself when I hear that little voice saying I'm not spending my time wisely enough, working hard enough, being productive enough, whatever the little voice feels like saying at the moment, is that one of the reasons I want to be a potter is so that I can be free. There is no point of being free from the grind of a nine to five, or three to eleven job, with a boss you have to answer to, or punching the clock, or having no creative freedom and just being a cog in their wheel, there is no point to being free of all of that, if I just create it all again for myself in my own environment.

Now I don't say this while I blow off work every day for the beach. I try to treat at least five, and often six days a week as if they are work days. I work in my studio at least six to seven hours, whether I feel like it or not. So as long as I am doing that, all those little voices can shut the fuck up. There's a difference between being self-disciplined, and self-abusive. There's this line from the Indigo Girls song, Closer to Fine, that goes ". . . and the best thing that you've ever done for me, is to help me take my life less seriously, it's only life after all". I think there is also a difference between not squandering your life, and taking things way too seriously. Everyone's got to work, and this is our job. But as self-employed potters we are so lucky in the freedom that we have, and we should relish that freedom, not berate ourselves for it.

That said, it is difficult working in a studio alone, and maybe that is one of the things that kicks up the voice. You don't get the feedback, and more importantly, you don't get the company. It is without a doubt one of the things I miss most working in my other jobs is the commarderie with the people I worked with. It is probably easier for me than maybe some other people because I truly love being alone, but even so I still crave human interaction once in a while. I think it's definitely one of the reasons I love participating in a pottery blog community. It is sometimes the only social interaction I have in a day (until Adam gets home, and then my day fills with social joy, the birds sing at dark, and all is right with the world of course). So I listen to a lot of NPR for company and when I need some tunes I punch a button on my Sirius and get lost in that for a while (if you don't already have sattelite radio you don't know what you are missing-at least in my area it is a mind saver).

Well, I suppose I could go on and on but I won't. I think we should all be a little easier on ourselves and remember to have some fun with this all. And take things seriously enough to get them done, but not so seriously that we miss out on the pleasure of being free.


Joy Tanner said...

Well said. You're right. The bigger priority over the work should be finding ways to achieve pleasure and happiness in our life. We (all potters/artists) just need to join together and become one big voice in our head that says good things, especially since we know we all fee the same.

Deborah Woods said...

I still totally understand where you are coming from though. I just try to discern the difference between my own conscience telling me what I need to do, and that brainwashing from our society telling me that I'm a big lazy looser if I'm not working 50-60 hour weeks and making six figures.

Judy Shreve said...

it's actually refreshing to realize we all have these frustrations at times. Blogging is a good thing -- we aren't working alone but have friends we can now share our joys & frustrations with.

Ben Stark said...

Who needs money though?? (Says the man who can't quit his day job to clay full time)

One of the biggest things I fear when I do become a full time potter is that I won't put in the hours that I need, but I work 9 hour days then go home and hit the studio for another 4, so I might be alright :)

And the handle post--I have never been able to make those kind of handles--thick on both ends--so when you find out how to perfect it, you have to give explicit instructions!

Deborah Woods said...

about those handles . . . I'm back at it again today and I think I may finally be onto something. But they are so different from the way I was taught that I find myself thinking that since they don't look like that then they are somehow wrong. But then I have to remind myself that they are MY handles and however I like them, is how they are right.

Joy Tanner said...

I'm about to pop in that Indigo Girls cd-thanks for the reminder.