I may not be the most stable person sometimes. An idea catches me and I’m suddenly aflutter with ALL. THE. THINGS. If it’s a decorating bug, I scour websites, pin to my boards, bookmark ideas, research good prices and coupon codes for free shipping; in the meantime I start rearranging furniture, packing up dustcatchers, adding different decorative items, cleaning off windowsills…and then I stop. Maybe it’s the fact the windows look a bit dingy and I should give them a good battle with Windex, or the very tops of the curtain valances have some interesting dustball formations, but just as suddenly I lose interest. I close out all the bookmarked pages and tell myself I was silly to get all bent out of shape over this idea, what I have is just fine.
Or the idea for writing a story invades all my waking moments and I can’t stop thinking of how I’m going to have characters behave. I write for days and I get impressed with myself until the first morning I make my tea and bring it over to my laptop and realize that I’d rather play on sporcle than write. In fact, I’d rather clean dustball formations than write, and you can imagine how low writing has sunk on my meter of interest.
I’ve always wanted to illustrate, and enjoyed a moderate success at craft fairs selling my humorous calligraphy quotes with illustrations. But instead of becoming bored with it (never!) I would get a horrible case of the humbles and decide that what I was producing was absolute crap and what kind of people bought my stuff anyway? Were they crazy? I practically stole their money! Anybody could do what I do, and probably do it much better. Look at Mary Engelbreit! (Now, that’s hubris. Me and Mary Engelbreit in the same breath. Yeah, no.) Or Susan Winget! Or my latest obsession, Susan Branch. (Go ahead and click on that link. You will be gone for days if you’re anything like me.)
Susan Branch is a woman/illustrator/human too good to be true. She is a watercolor artist who lives on Martha’s Vineyard and has a marvelous old home with a picket fence garden and the most positive, upbeat, and optimistic attitude I’ve ever seen. I felt the itch and I knew I was doomed: I bought new pencils, markers, sketch books, erasers, and began scouring my books for ideas. (I always get nervous: at what point do you deviate from “inspired by” to outright and blatant “plagiarism?”) My dream is to have stickers and scrapbook items, as well as mugs, kitchen linens, and fabrics with my artwork, as well as writing and illustrating a children’s book.
Good heavens, I just wrote down my dream. Now what? Now I’m accountable! Now I have to work at it or forever be known as a slacker! (Well, I think I already own that title.) Now there are actual people (or, to be completely honest, virtual internet presences) who have witnessed my spoken dream and can forever more say things to me like, “so, how’s that dream of yours going? Have you done any WORK towards it?” and when I have no awesome success to show, I will be a failure.
Isn’t that what we’re all afraid of? We put it out there, but if we don’t follow through then we will be judged and found wanting and nobody loves a loser. I don’t want the Maytag dishwasher to call me a lazy toaster, even though I do have the lazy gene. I can’t even show you evidence because I don’t think any of the printer/copier/scanner machines we’ve bought in our lifetime have ever been able to scan an image into the computer successfully. I suppose I could take photos…
Oh, look, there’s some dustbunnies calling my name….