I’m currently in the amassing stage of writing: gathering “tools” I “need” to write. But really, I am just procrastinating – pushing off the inevitable blank page and real work I’ll need to start on a novel. A novel that I have no shadow of a thought about its contents.
What I do have is an office full of quasi-creative side business leftovers. I started and stopped three different businesses and blogs.
All of these endeavors were a sugar rush: a short term burst of personal achievement and then a crash. Ironically, I gave up on all three of these endeavors when I started seeing them succeed.
My first business was Eyelet Sage Studio. I was fresh out of college in a broken economy, hoping to use a scrap of my education to generate income, so I designed greeting cards and sold them through Etsy. It took several months of designing and printing and folding and packaging and photographing and listing, but I started finally to see a few sales. A few months later, I started getting repeat customers. But, when my sales increased a little more and I received messages for bulk orders, I stopped. The thought of putting in more hours, printing more cards and expanding my inventory made me feel deflated rather than exhilarated.
I stopped Eyelet Sage Studio and continued my normal day-job work. Years later after we had our first daughter, I started Marionberries Kids and spent time sewing kids’ items. This was my most successful venture by society’s standards. From when I started, to when I finished, it was less than a year. In that time I created nearly a hundred items, designed and launched its website and registered it as an official business. I made products that were well made and well liked. Within hours of launching the site, I had my first sales. A few months later, I participated in craft shows. One local craft show chose Marionberries Kids to be one of their highlighted vendors, and sent the url of the website out in their newsletter with a few other top vendors. People assumed I had been working for years, even though it was months. But, even though this appeared successful (it wasn’t, I didn’t stick with it long enough to turn a profit), it was just another blip in my story. Though I could sew – thanks to growing up with a mom who was a home ec teacher and a seamstress – I didn’t enjoy sewing. It was a means to an end to be creative and make a small side income.
Sandwiched in between these two was The Little Green Homemaker, a blog I wrote for around five years. I thought blogging would be my way to “make it” with writing. I wrote about eco and frugal living, something I am fairly passionate about. But, after years of writing, this fell flat just like the others. It was after I stopped writing regularly that the readership finally grew to a few thousand views a month – still small in the blogging world, but big for me. Last year, the time came to renew the hosting and domain name for The Little Green Homemaker. The cost for renewals had jumped, and I couldn’t rationalize keeping a blog going that I never wrote new content for. When the domain name ended along with the hosting, it stung. Five years of work was in essence gone, along with my proof of writing anything. But, I realized after a few months, that this blog was never it.
I’m not a nonfiction writer. I do it yes, but it doesn’t excite me. Ever since I was a preschooler, I’ve been concocting stories and telling them to people. When I could write, I wrote and illustrated my own books. In third grade, after showing my teacher one of my illustrated stories, she encouraged me to publish it. And, while I never did (and never will) publish The Adventures of Freddy Lottus, it sparked a hope in me. After that story, I wrote constantly with the desire to publish and share my writing with other people.
The problem is, as we grow older, we learn about real life stress. We develop cynicism. And that little eight year old who dreamed she would publish someday, the little eight year old who knew she would publish some day, gets pushed down and shushed until you can hardly hear her whisper anymore. So we who are creative trudge through life, pushing off our frivolous dreams to ground ourselves in the reality that everyone else insists on. We take several detours to distract us from the desire to indulge in the one thing that sets our hearts and minds on fire.
I tried Eyelet Sage Studio, Marionberries and The Little Green Homemaker because those were more realistic. Those creative outlets promised a faster income, a quicker return on time and money invested. But, those of us with specific creative callings, we can’t just ignore them. Ignoring what we are supposed to do just crushes us and quietly invalidates us, and the other creative projects we pursue will fail.
I have wasted more than a decade not writing. And in that decade, my ability to write fiction has atrophied. It will take time to regain years of lost ground. But, I now realize that this is a fight worth pursuing. Callings are never frivolous.