I'm closing in on the end of this piece I've been working on. Hallelujah, brother. I have a May 5th deadline for myself. (Signed up for a book marketing class that starts on the 5th, ergo…) I've been writing every day that I've been able to sit in a chair or stand and type on a bureau.
It's been weird not touching clay for three months. THREE MONTHS!! Longest I've gone in almost seven years. Changing gears has been humbling, I must say. When folks used to ask me what I did for work, I'd say: "I'm a potter." People still ask, and I still say it. Are those words still true? It doesn't feel right yet to say: "I'm a writer." And I wonder: will I be able to answer that way someday?
At any rate, I cannot continue Mudstar Ceramics in the way that I began it. My body cannot do the intense, repetitive work it used to do. But not touching clay has been…what? Disconcerting? Unfamiliar. No label with which to define myself. Leaving me untethered, in a way. A ship without a port. I'm not someone who looks back all that much, which is both good and bad, but I will miss Mudstar, the way that it was. But there is so much truth in the idea that you need to be pushed out of the nest, past your comfort zone, into the unfamiliar, in order to grow, to make new ideas and new work. I'm there now. Not going to lie: it's itchy out here.
Once you've had validation doing work that was appreciated and "successful" (whatever that means to you,) you feel obligated to continue in that same vein. It's safe doing that kind of work. Gratifying, too, in a way, because you could found validation through the dollar, through compliments, through recognition. It's really hard to switch gears. It's hard when people ask: what have you been making, what's Mudstar doing? And I feel sheepish in the way I've been answering currently.
I'm lucky I've been able to listen to my gut about my creative work - I'm really grateful for that. It's time to be stretched to the edge of uncomfortable. To put myself out there again. To write. To make some framed work. (See? Can't stay away from clay too long. I'll get grouchy.) To see what else is out there for me.
I watched the finale of Girls last night, and Hannah had a perfect way of describing her search for creative fulfillment:
"I want to find a hole in the world in the shape of me and just fill it up."