Friday, January 24, 2014

a new page

When some people want to change something in their life, they may buy a membership at the gym, join a like-minded group, enroll in a class, or get a therapist.

Me, I buy a notebook.

This is a collection of my notebooks. In the interest of full disclosure I will say that this is not all of them. All have been acquired within the past 3 years, with the exception of #12, my wedding notebook that my Aunt Shelly sent to me back in 2001 when I got engaged to my husband. She knows the power of the notebook.

I have always wished that I were the type of person who could carry around a moleskine notebook and jot all of my thoughts and ideas into that one place, and when I was done, file it and buy another exactly like it. And when I needed to refer back to something, a genius thought or creative idea-- of which I have many-- I could simply crack the moleskine. My inner creative life could be documented in a linear way that would create a beautiful pocket of order in my universe.

But that's not me. I am addicted to the new beginning a fresh notebook represents. When I decide I need to make a change in my life, such as getting more exercise,  a new notebook must be purchased (#15) so I can use that notebook as a way of tracking myself. I can't write down my daily exercise in notebook #10, which holds my grocery lists and menu plans, or notebook #21, which lists all the annoying household things that need to be taken care of, and certainly not notebook #9, which lists my studio to-do's for the day. Crossover creates confusion.

And it's not just lists of things that I like to have going. #14 is my daily journal (always spiral bound and college-ruled). #13 is strictly for pottery ideas and drawings, while #3 is for other creative ideas, like papercuts. #4 is dedicated to happiness and happiness resources รก la Gretchen Rubin, and #7 stays in my purse for moments when I am struck by inspiration when out to dinner or a museum (empty except for notes on directions and places to eat). #3 was for when I decided to start doing sketches with little stories underneath, of which there are two in the past year (sketches, not stories), and somewhere in there is a notebook related to money, but I'm not sure which.

I'm going to confess what you probably saw coming from the beginning of this post: the only notebook that regularly gets any use is my journal, my day planner, and my sketch books. In large part, the rest of the notebook are testaments only to my ambitions, desires and goals. 

For people like me, who believe in the strength of words and writing, notebooks and paper hold a powerful sway over our psyches. As I was writing this post, and reading about notebooks and moleskines, I found this notebook, and my heart started beating a little faster. Maybe this is the ultimate notebook. Maybe this is the one that can change everything.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

old blog posts, new thoughts

I received a new comment from another potter on an old blog post the other day that brought up some thoughts I wanted to share it with you all:

I'm still trying to figure out my message. My (blog) posts have a tendency to be all over the place. Some about pottery, some about my daily health struggles, and some just because! Do you really think that it is beneficial to narrow the point/audience of a blog, or will the "wide net" approach I've got going on work?

When I first started this blog just over 7 years ago, I knew I wanted to share my world with people, but I struggled with distilling my world into interesting blog posts.  My biggest mistake initially was thinking I had to maintain a professional facade for the sake of potential customers. Like my blog is a fancy store or I'm going to sell you an appliance or something.  I wrote about a dozen polite, very restrained, heavily edited posts that I hoped gave the impression that I was a serious artist with deep thoughts. By the way, only click on those links if you are feeling suicidal and think being bored to death might be a painless way to go (it's not).

Then, I had a terrible weekend at a bad retail show and I let loose in a blog post how I felt about it. I was completely honest about my anger, discomfort, and disappointment when I have to stand around like an idiot all weekend and people don't buy my work, or even talk to me.

That post was a lot of fun to write, and I was so scared to publish it because I was afraid of what people would think of me, complaining like that.  But I did publish it, and it was the first time I had more than one or two comments. I made the great discovery that people pay branding companies lots of money to manufacture for them: authenticity creates connection.

Authenticity is scary. Knowing who you are deeply enough to show your authentic self is work in itself, and you also have to accept that some people are not going to like you and what you have to say. And you know what? Fuck them. Not in a personal way, people aren't bad for not liking you. In a general way, fuck the people who are not into your world. The people who love your world can't wait to see what you do next, and they are the people who matter.

The question about narrowing the point/audience of a blog vs. wide net is not what needs to be considered, that's approaching it from the back end. The front end approach is  honing your point of view through writing and sharing. If you don't know what your point of view is, keep writing until you figure it out.