Blogging Reflection

journal writing

Every so often I wonder what I am doing here… as in writing this blog – why I feel the need to write and put my thoughts out there in the world.

I discovered my dog eared, well thumbed copy of The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocket the other day. Published in 2007 (how time flies!) I can recall the moment I fell in love with this book, I was kneeling in front of the shelves labelled ‘hobbies’ right in the middle of a large Bookshop, the strange quiet of subdued voices that seems to unique to bookshops and libraries, together the hiss of the steamer from the cafe in the corner. Gentle Arts gave me that prickly sensation you get when something resonates with your soul. A yearning for the joys of domestic pleasures that was so at odds with everyone else around me at the time.

Sweet crust pastry

I was surrounded by friends who were perplexed at my desire for stitchery, my longing to hook wool into submission and while they were delighted with home made cake their eyebrows shot up in horror when I told them that the dress they admired was actually home made. (oh really? why would you bother, Primark is so cheap?). Can you believe it was ten years ago?

07-Cotton reel

Within the pages of the book was a woman who also admitted to the yearning to knit, or the joy to be discovered within one’s own four walls and the desire to create harmony and beauty. The book led me to her beautiful blog and the blogger within me was born. Sadly, she no longer blogs as you will see if you click the link, but I clung to her like a lifeboat in those days – there was someone out there who felt like I do. And isn’t that why we feel a desire to write our blogs? I know for me – I feel connected with other like minded women who are just like me.

decorated cup cake

Thankfully,  when I moved to Sussex in 2011, I have since found many like minded women, and creativity has gained a resurgence in popularity – thank goodness.

Blogging has been a bumpy adventure, my first blog on blogger went virtually unread for over a year – it seemed nigh on impossible to get readers because the platform promotes blogs by readers..mine remained in the frozen wasteland of zero readers at the bottom of page 3000 or something.  A change to WordPress made it easier, and it is thanks to Bekki and her encouragement and comments in the early days, that gave me hope to continue.

shortbread

A big bump in the road, is all the promotion and PR you are told to do in the early stages to get readers, that I nearly lost my way a little. Thankfully, I seem to have settled into my blog, by ignoring most of the ‘expert advice’.

Namely: I did not keep my blog on one subject only – because that wasn’t what I was blogging for, I wanted to share and write about my own journey and my many interests.

I also love reading other people’s blogs – I find other people fascinating- and I have come across so many creative people across the world -that the loneliness of that woman kneeling in front of a bookshelf – is just a memory.

herbal-tea-apple-and-cinnamon

It’s taken me a while – to find my voice, to let my blog evolve and to share what makes my heart sing, and it is also a wonderful record of my journey in the last few years! Who knows what the future holds.. technology changes all the time, but right now, I am enjoying writing, and hopefully, dear reader, you are enjoying reading..;-)

 

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A creative dilemma

The Ego urges you to accomplish, while your soul merely asks you to enjoy the process
I used to follow a wonderful blog it was full of patterns and brilliant links; the blog was updated almost daily but one day there was a short simple post to say that she felt it was time to stop blogging about life and live – I knew what she meant. 
I was initially disappointed that there would not be more of her wonderful posts, but at the same time I realised that this small blog had the potential to become a monster if I wasn’t careful. While it is lovely to write and share things, it is all too easy to look at the blog statistics and want to see more hits or more readers, or even a few comments then the focus on getting more.. more and more. 
I think that is the tipping point, as a creative it is wonderful to make something, a picture, a cushion or a bag, I was simply making something that I liked then I started to share things with the world then the ‘audience’ becomes a vague person that I wanted to please. Suddenly it isn’t about the process it is all about the outcome. 
lotions and potions – I broke one of the candle holders! 

I noticed it when I started getting my projects published, it was fantastic seeing my name in print, but from that moment on everything I focussed on was for the magazine – I found I was making things that were publishable but not necessarily what I wanted. I love hand sewing, but I never did anything hand sewn because it would not be published, and I stopped drawing altogether. 
It took me several attempts before I mastered crochet flowers
Another aspect that I found the cause of stress was that sometimes a project develops, a mistake, or an idea happens while I am in the process of making something, but when you have agreed on a specific idea magazines are not always flexible – after all they are in the business of selling, they have a brand and know what they want in the ‘box’.  Readers expectations come into this a lot and I am one so I know! One day I had a terrible disaster, the cushion that was to be published had got ruined in the wash, the teal velvet had run over the white fabric, the only reason I washed it was for the magazine, I scoured the shops looking for replacement fabrics, and since it was a winter project and I was sewing it in August, there were no winter fabrics in the shops. For me I had realised that I was not gaining enough out of doing it. I thought about approaching other magazines, but that would mean more output. 
I love to live with the seasons, I enjoy celebrating the small festivals that are part of our connection to the changing seasons, but magazines have a three to four month lead time, so I was writing out of sync, it meant that I could not focus and enjoy the moment. 
It is nature that nurtures our creative spirit
It isn’t just me that feels the pressure, I was chatting to a dear friend of mine who makes things to sell because she needs the extra money it brings in. She has found the whole craft fair process a roller coaster of mainly dips. One customer picked up a handmade item that had taken my friend hours to make and suggested she was selling it too high, the customer wanted to pay a minimal amount because she considered that my friend was clearly doing it for fun. How can it be fun to see your hard work knocked down for a few pounds? 
I like a bargain but I love even more the delight of paying a good price to encourage someone’s creativity, I would much rather have that fondness for a lovely handmade item than beating someone down to a rock bottom bargain. 
have values changed? 
I feel that our culture has lost its way a little, we see companies always seeking to make that extra profit regardless of the impact that it has on communities. We ourselves have begun to value what we do only in terms of how much someone will pay for something. In addition we are all supposed to be extra-ordinary, children aren’t told to get a job they are told to get careers, it isn’t enough to simply make things, we have to sell them, and lots of them! Let’s hear it for a life more ordinary! One where we don’t have to strive to be better or bigger, who measures that anyway?
I really don’t know what the answer is, other than to step back and do our small thing.. encourage one another. It is about balance, let us remember that sometimes it is about simply having fun, enjoying the process and forgetting the outcome. Only then can we allow ourselves to play, take chances and let go. That is when I think we create our best work, even if it is just me and the dog who agree!