“Oh, how creative.”

  

There’s no arguing that creativity can be a messy, confusing process no matter what it is you’re into. Something I’ve found to be just as if not more frustrating than actually doing the work is trying to explain the thing that you’re doing to people who don’t really want to understand.

If you are one of these people whether you make candles, poetry, miniature train sets or play violin at the local train station — chances are you’ve had to explain yourself to someone who doesn’t understand, or someone who sees creative thinking as a frivolous pastime. It’s incredibly frustrating to have people ask when they don’t really care, or already have a preconceived idea about how you live or spend your time. Creativity isn’t just an excuse for creative people to sit back and allow everyone else to slog out the 9-5 while we, the throng of creative do-nothings, roll naked down a grassy hill.

As a person with my creepy skeleton fingers in many weird-tasting pies, I’ve received the dismissive comments about what I do many times, and for a while it stressed me out so much that I just stopped telling people. Meeting new people left me with heart palpitations and boob sweat because I knew at least a third of the encounter would be me trying to explain myself, as if I was apologising for doing something that brings me so much enjoyment.

Between writing, ceramics, and making jewellery out of oven-hardening clay, the response I receive quite often is the same variation of “Oh, you do (insert creative skill)? – that must be nice, to have so much time on your hands …” or when people half-heartedly asking how my “little writing projects” are coming along as they stare off into the distance wistfully noting that they don’t even have time to paint their nails anymore. I just didn’t see the point in putting myself through that, until I started answering these half-hearted questions so honestly and with as much confidence as I could gather that people either stopped giving me the not-so-subtle put down or I just didn’t care what they thought because I was doing the work that was fulfilling and exciting for me.

I sound like I’m oversimplifying the solution if I say to ‘just stop caring’. But really, I just stopped giving a shit what everyone else thinks of me/my work, and it sounds brutal but I honestly don’t think a lot of people care what anyone else is doing, and that’s alright. When you consider how wrapped up everyone is in their own problems and how little time they spend thinking/talking about you, it just makes it a lot easier to stop worrying. Just be ridiculously excited about what you’re doing, let everyone know about it if they dare to ask, and if they’re dismissive or condescending – that’s cool, just don’t waste your time having any sort of similar conversation with them again. 

As Chuck Wendig notes in his blog post 25 Things You Should Know About Creativity, he’s devised the perfect way to deal with the “Oh, how creative” mindset:

“Hey, fuck those people. Fuck ‘em because they don’t grok the fact that creativity is what makes this whole human race not just function, but evolve.”

I’m not suggesting that creativity is the cure-all for everything screwed up in the world, but I just think that those who think that creative people don’t work hard or don’t ‘grind’ as much as everyone else are being ridiculous. Everyone works hard. A lot of people work multiple jobs and still come home with swollen ankles and do their dance practice, or spend nights painting while the kids sleep. Even if it makes no money, if it goes nowhere in the eyes of others, and it’s something you would do regardless and it makes you happy – I think that means you should definitely fucking do it irrespective of what everyone else might think.

The Bra Plight

It’s only within the past year or so that i’ve discovered the true joy of liberating my boobs from their wire-framed cage. Nothing signifies the end of a hard day quite like the snap of a clasp, closely followed by a dull thud as it hits the wall with force. I remember the excitement when I bought my first bra, I couldn’t even wait until I had anything to put in a bra, and for a few years they did a great job of doing nothing other than making me feel like part of the club. Now bras cost more than my clothes, and there’s nothing remotely exciting about strapping myself into one. So recently i’ve sort of just stopped wearing them unless I feel I’d like to, and my comfort-based decision to get the girls out regularly has been liberating in more ways than I expected.

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Pottery Club

My love of clay began when I gifted my Nan a metallic green pig I had sculpted in art class at school.  It had little beady eyes and an altogether unsettling body composition, but I was so proud of it, and the deformed little sentinel still stands guard in her foyer.

I didn’t touch clay again until I discovered the joys of oven-bake clay in November 2011. Clay that you can cure in a little toaster oven in just 15 minutes? Magic! From there I began making miniature food sculptures you can wear as jewellery. I realise that sentence is a little confusing for someone who doesn’t spend hours sculpting a carrot the size of a matchstick, so it’s probably easier for you to get the gist by having a quick squiz here to really understand what i’m blabbing about. Yes, it’s an extremely niche market, but thankfully yes, people really do buy/wear them.

For as long as I can remember wheel thrown pottery has always mesmerised me, but classes were few and far between, and were almost always booked up well in advanced. For my 23rd birthday I was determined to find a class with open spaces, and a new studio opened up just a suburb away. The thought of trying to wrangle a hunk of clay on a spinning wheel using nothing but centrifugal force and my hands was a dizzying concept, and more than just being fun, it would be functional! I might be able to make things that can hold water and food and look aesthetically pleasing – unlike my metallic pig.

I struggled through my first couple of classes. Getting that little lump of stoneware clay to sit in the middle of the wheel-head seemed near impossible, and being left-handed added an exciting little learning curve. My instructor insisted I was a natural, but I felt more like a fraud as I did in music class, holding up the clarinet and pretending to play without having a clue what I was doing. After a few lessons of me gritting my teeth trying to make things that looked less like stunted little vessels that were either too thick or dangerously thin, it all started to flow much more easily.

Wheel throwing has forced me gather a modicum of patience. I was so used to having a near instant end result with oven-baked clay. I could start and finish a piece in under an hour, but now it takes more like 3 weeks, as I only have one day a week in the studio and things need time to firm up between trimming/bisque firing/glazing. I started classes almost two months ago and it was only last week that I sent my first two little planters to the mercy of the kiln gods. They’re not perfect, but they’ll be the first thing I’ll be able to hold in my hand as a finished product. As I put them on the firing shelf I muttered my goodbyes, telling them to “Make Mummy proud or don’t bother coming home.” One of the resident potters happened to walk in at that time and had a good giggle, noting that she too had that same nervous feeling when she started.

In just two days i’ll be able to see how they went on their little journey. They might have exploded, or the glaze might have run and turned them into a permanent art installation in the kiln. I’ll admit that the waiting is killing me, but the process was half the fun.

A x.

I Apologise Too Much

Photo by Carro Wallis on Flickr.
Photo by Carro Wallis on Flickr.

I was always taught to be polite. To excuse myself when walking inbetween people or leaving the table, and to always, always say my please’s and thank you’s. My very proper great grandmother didn’t teach me to say sorry for everything I did, that seemed to happen of it’s own accord through the inherent female guilt complex. Don’t be an imposition, be grateful, don’t be too assertive – or you’re just dismissed a big rude bossy-pants.

It’s something I became more aware of when a male runner smashed into me from behind on a morning walk, and I was the one who said sorry. Sorry he was too busy trying to run and text to watch where he was going? Sorry that I take up too much space? Really, what kind of crap is that?

And it’s definitely not an isolated incident. I apologise for the stupidest shit. Sorry that i’m violently ill and can’t come to work and share my phlegm. I’m even prone to pre-warning my girlfriends before we hang out, apologising for looking like “a complete mess.” I even bumped into a mirror at a department store and apologised to my own reflection before I’d had the time to assess what the hell was going on.

While it’s a hard habit to kick, I think it’s an important thing to recognise and address. My new aim is to really assess whether or not the thing i’m about to apologise for is my fault, and if not, i’m going to save that sorry for an occasion where I really am in the wrong. Like that time I skateboarded down a hill and smashed into a parked car. Yeah, that really was my bad.

What’s something you’ve apologised for that wasn’t your fault?

Hungry

Photo by Mark_K_ on Flickr
Photo by Mark_K_ on Flickr

After graduation I was satiated. I thought I had eaten and dished out more words than I could ever read/write/speak again. I revelled in the feeling of having nothing due, to go to sleep without triple-checking to ensure I did in fact set my alarm. I was in a state of blissful limbo, where I felt the space between graduating and work was a good place to rest because damn, I had worked hard.

I worked in my unfulfilling cafe job and spent all my in-between time sculpting. I loved having the time and freedom to pursue my art, and I had no intentions to write, read, or do anything in relation to my degree. I had no idea what I was doing, floating through the weeks in the hopes that my dream job would yank me out of hibernation and inspire me to continue what I used to love and do for fun.

That feeling of euphoric freedom faded as swiftly as it had come. Small talk with strangers became difficult, because when they asked what I do for a living I stuttered and made excuses trying to justify my state of nothingness.

Up until now I had been stagnant, but it all became too much. Doing nothing was weighing on me more than when I was running myself ragged, and that gnawing need to write started to bug me. At first writing was hard, I felt like a newborn baby giraffe stumbling around clumsily. But now it’s just started happening, as weird as it sounds. I’m writing in my head constantly, most of it is shit, I mean it’s not like I picked up a pen and became a writing savant or anything. But I’ve started carrying my journal around just in case, and i’ve actually picked up my university textbooks again. For the first time, in a very long time, I can call myself a writer and actually mean it.

Owning it

I’m a writer. I’m a writer. I AM A WRITER!

So i’ve recently come to the realisation that If you write, you’re a writer. You make art? That’s really cool – but don’t say that you make art. Just call yourself an artist! That’s what you are, and you’re really creative and i’m assuming you also put a lot of work into your art so give yourself the title. You’ve earnt it! As these things usually go it’s much easier dishing out advice than it is taking it on board and applying it yourself.

Today I was discussing my future with my Mum and called myself a writer (as I often do inside my head but never out loud) and she scoffed at me closely followed with “Well, you’re not a writer yet”. I just sort of scowled at her, taken aback at her dismissive attitude considering that i’ve been working my ass off at my internship for a Brisbane magazine waiting for my ‘big break’. I quickly set her straight, but when did it become okay for people to put down other people owning what they are and what they’re trying to do/become in life? It’s not cool. I’ve come so far from where I was a few months ago i.e anxiety ridden and stuck in a rut. I didn’t know what I was doing, or what I was going to do. I’d always loved writing, but wasn’t sure that I was going to attempt to turn it into a career. After seeing fellow graduates getting internships I was extremely jealous that they’d found their direction until I thought about it and remembered that their success doesn’t take away from mine. A rising tide lifts al boats. There’s no point trying to bring everyone else around you down when their success can ultimately bring you up, or at least give you the kick in the ass to drag yourself to high tide.

I’m not going to let anyone bring me down. I’m continuing to do my thing, and not let anyone make me feel any less than what I am. I’m going to write prolifically and continue to make sculptures while working part-time and squeezing in boyfriend time anywhere I can. I got this, and i’m sure you do too.

So all-in-all, own what you are. If you’re still learning or just starting out, it doesn’t matter. Give yourself the credit you deserve.

I am a writer, barista, dog lady, fire twirler and artist. I am all of those things, all at once. 

Living at Home in Your 20’s

I’m 22 and yet to fly (or jump from) the nest. Mum isn’t pressuring me to leave, she’s actually making bets with my stepdad that I will stay until my boyfriend graduates next year, at which point I would begin doing my duty as a daughter by spawning many children to carry on her genetic material. I feel that she’s going to be bitterly disappointed.

The main thing that somewhat shelters me from bearing the full brunt of my family all the time is that I live slightly separated from them. My room is on the bottom level of the house and the main living areas/bedrooms are upstairs. The downside to this is that I have my family almost standing on my bead – the roof is so (illegally) low that I can hear tapping of feet, full conversations and spoons hitting cereal bowls. Mum has discovered the best way to summon me is by stomping on the floor directly above where I sit in my office. Why pay to have get intercom or walk down the 12 steps when you can deafen your daughter from the comfort of the couch?

Living at home can be tough when you’re growing up, but when you choose to stay as your older as a way to save money you’re pretty much at the mercy of your parents. They’re letting you stay when you should be out making it on your own. Everything I do needs to be imbued with a sense of intense gratitude, and even then it does nothing to save me from the ranting. I pay rent, do my fair share around the house, do a lot of the cooking and keep my space clean. No matter how much we fight Mum still insists that she wants me to stay so I can’t be that bad, right?

I think it’s also important for me to keep in mind that this will probably be the most freedom I have in a living situation until i’ve bought my own home. I’m a sculptor that works as a barista part time while finishing a writing internship, i’m fully aware that my renting future is not going to be pretty. Before we bought this house my childhood consisted of house inspections and reluctant relocations. So while I love my family, and i’m grateful for them giving me a chance to get my shit together, it doesn’t meant that I have to spend all my time grovelling and being made to feel guilty.

Love your family, but don’t let them give you shit for existing, or treat you like you’re 15.

*Note This will be one of many posts about the goings on of my family. I’m not exaggerating whatsoever when I say that my family is very, very unique. I have so many unbelievable stories in my arsenal – sorry Mum, they mostly include you.