After posting my last blog I Googled Renate Kirkpatrick, the author of my scrumbling bible and became a fan of her page on Facebook. Her work is amazing and has inspired me to stop prevaricating (I’m expert enough at that), sort through the bits and pieces I’ve already made and start joining them together.
At first I found this process difficult – not technically, because this is one craft that you can dive into, whatever your skill level. But the colours I was using looked dull and unattractive and comparing what I’d done to the illustrations in my book made me want to throw my ‘patches’ in the bin and start again. It was hard to keep going and push through my dislike of how the whole thing seemed to be evolving.
This is always how I feel, whenever I start something – be it crochet, writing, papier-mache, gardening or cooking anything other than everyday stuff. I have a definite idea of how it should look, read or taste and tend to launch into it, full of confidence that it will work because I want it to. But it’s never quite as straightforward as I believe it will be. Some of my experiments really are beyond redemption and have to be abandoned or recycled. I have to figure out where I went wrong and if it’s possible to correct it.
This is when my self-assurance begins to waver. ‘What was I thinking? How could I have imagined that I could ever produce anything of worth? If anyone saw this, they’d die laughing. I’m like a silly child, desperate for approval.’ Self indulgent, maybe, but these thoughts really do run through my head, and it takes considerable mental effort to halt and then reverse them.
When this happens – like now for instance – I have to force myself to take a break and do something completely different, something that doesn’t demand intense concentration. Like trawling through the gossip on FB, for instance, or sharing a laugh and a cup of Redbush with The Artist or even updating my blog. 🙂 I can then return to my task with renewed energy.
If I’m lucky (and I do count myself as being very lucky), this is when the magic happens. Words flow; glue dries; flavours marinate; the sun comes out and when I raise my head and look around, I find I’ve done it. Written a chapter, created a giant bowl, completed a scrumble. And everything in the garden is coming up better than I could have planned it.
Note that I didn’t say ‘as good as’ or ‘just like I planned it’. Because, of course, I never do plan anything – well, not entirely. Like the eager child I berated earlier, I’m way too impatient. I used to think this was a failing but – after more than half a century – I’m beginning to understand that it’s actually a blessing.
When I try to harness my creative impulses I’m the one who gets all tied up. But when I set them free, they never fail to amaze and delight me. Like so many things in life, for me it’s all about letting go and going with the flow.