Friday, May 19, 2017

do the work

Over the past 6 weeks or so I've been getting back into a morning routine. It's not the same as my old routine before my mom died. For one, it starts much later in the morning since I can't seem to get out of bed before 7 AM. And that's a vast improvement over my 10 AM wake-up that I was in for a while. Actually, I wake up around my normal time, 5:30 AM, but I just lay in bed instead of getting out of it.

My morning routine is pretty regulated, because it keeps me moving and sees to all of my needs, and I don't have to waste time having a conversation with myself over should I bother washing my face today, do I need to eat breakfast, what should I do for exercise. I just do what I did yesterday and don't overthink it.

My routine has been leading me into my studio after lunch, and I've been spending at least a few hours in there every day. That's where the overthinking starts.

I'm trying to get work together for the Clay and Glass Festival, the one big show I do every summer. There is no way I'm not doing it. I actually made so much pottery in 2016 that I already have a good start on work, but I have a lot of holes. Like I have no small or medium sized vases. There is a bowl deficit. And only a few mugs left.

But I just keep freezing up. I'm sure it's the grief and depression, but I have lost interest in the loose, painterly, scratchy work I've been into for the past 2 years or so. I don't want to make it anymore. So then I say to myself, "You can just make what you want to make, just have fun." But I have no desires, I have no ideas.  It's like trying to light a match underwater.

I left the studio yesterday kind of hating myself and pottery in general. I kept thinking about a dream I had the night before, where I was in a watercolor class being taught by my friend Rae. I was painting all over this sheet of paper, and it in the wacky way that dreams go, all over this room that we were in. I was having fun, and it was a magical dream that made me happy all morning. I made some time to paint that morning to try and live out the dream a bit, and it felt good. But my "real work" with all of its loaded expectations and judgements, is like the opposite right now. I just feel like I'm falling short all the time.

I know that's not fair to myself. And I know that in many ways it's not even true. It's just how I feel.

I was bitching about my day to Big Brother and he basically told me to Just. Do. The. Work. Don't worry about stretching myself, don't worry about feeling creative, just make some work, make some money, and get inspired later when I'm feeling better. Copy my old work if that's what it takes.

Big Brother kind of knows what he's talking about because by horrible coincidence, his father died 2 weeks before my mom, so we've been going through the same kind of shit these past few months. I hung up the phone thinking how much I need to dial it back on myself right now. It's just way to much to ask to come up with fresh inspiration. It's absurd to expect. It's rude to even ask. My old semi-stale inspiration will have to do. Wow, hear how judgy that is? It's hard to stop.

I'm taking a break from the studio today and heading for the beach with my watercolors.

I'm a blank slate-- what are you going to make out of me?

Meanwhile, I don't judge my watercolors for a second.


  1. Whitney girl, you pegged it here. ALL of it. I love how you often manage to write about the very things I have no words for. Eternal thanks. Hope the beach is glorious. Fondly, Liz

  2. You're doing great, Whitney. Today's post is totally positive. Your Big Brother gave you good advice. I'm right there with you: debilitating grief + professional pottery business to run. It's touch and go. Hang in there, I'm rooting for you.

  3. I wish you find that mojo again for you, for no one else but YOU. take good loving care of yourself.

  4. I have not lost my mother and I do not know that grief but I lost my sister suddenly a year and 8 months ago. I had just begun a 3 year MFA program. Grief was all consuming. I didn't want to pause my studies so I did what you are describing. I just started making work. Not what I had been doing but just anything. A mess really but it felt good to get my hands moving. I know my sister would have not wanted me to quit so I just gave myself a break and just made whatever. I hope you find solace in creating. Be gentle with yourself. Grief is so very hard.

  5. I echo what my good friend Liz said. And Big Brother got it right too! Do take care of yourself.

  6. Wow, what a beautiful, painful, accurate simile: like trying to light a match underwater. I know that feeling. I'm sorry. It sucks.

    It passes. Hang on.