I’m easily distracted; oh, yes, I am.
Part of the problem is that I’m an artist who is not wedded to any particular medium. I’ve worked in paper, pottery, textiles and words. I’ve done engraving, linoleum cuts, woodcuts, bookmaking, origami and pop-ups, whistles, buttons and tableware, embroidery, spinning, weaving, natural dyes, knitting felting and maskmaking, poetry, fiction and non-fiction. I’ve doodled with photography, glass and woodwork. When I can’t do some kind of art, I suffer withdrawal. My unofficial motto is “I art, therefore I am”.
The year we opened the pet store was a hard year. I went from being a full-time potter to being a full-time retailer, thrown off the dock, hit with a splash, no chance to wade in and get used to the temperature of the water. That first year I cried almost every day as we drove in to work. The commute was an hour and a half each way, the days twelve hours long, twelve hours of learning a lot of new things very quickly. That learning curve was so steep it was all but vertical. When I was home, I didn’t have the energy to spend on art, and it was physically and emotionally painful. I would tell my husband through sobs, “It’s okay – I just didn’t do any art this week.”
Now I’m home again, immersed in writing, bookmaking, a little pottery and thinking about getting back into printmaking and perhaps doing hand-printed books. It’s wonderful, and I’m wallowing in it and loving it all. The inspiration sleeting through my brain isn’t all about writing. Some of it’s about bookmaking, designing pop-ups, planning a limited-edition handbound book of one poem with a linocut illustration for each couplet.
But as I’ve pointed out before, I’m committed to the young-adult novel. Gotta get it done. So I make notes and sketches and promises to myself that when this project is done and shipped out, I’ll have a paper day – maybe a paper week – during which I will glut myself with origami and bookmaking and pop-ups (I have an idea for a naughty one with a black Merry Widow). Of course you know what will happen: my characters will come pounding on the studio door. “Hey in there! You have stories to write! Put down those scissors before we come in there and take them away from you!”
You know that old saying, Ars longa, vita brevis ? Yeah, art is long, and life is short, that’s true, but the main problem is that there’s so many arts, and only one life. I’m thinking we need a new saying. How about “There’s too much art for just one life”? (In Latin – which is always classy – “nimium ars pro unus vita”) Or “So much art, so little time”? (Adeo ars, tantillus vicis).
In the meantime, crack that whip, exercise that discipline. I’m back to feeding the penguin.