Sunday, April 18, 2010

Back to that other thought...

Ready for a little more armchair psychology?

After this post, I impulsively picked up a couple of books about starting up a small crafts-based business. (Answers can always be found in a book, right?) Both began by asking the reader to evaluate why she wanted to sell the fruits of her labors. There was no judgement of motives. If it's to make a zillion dollars, that's OK. If it's so you can find your dining room table through the pompoms on a regular basis again, that's OK too. You just need to be honest with yourself.

Alright, I thought, I'll play along. Since sneaking up on a solution seems to be my modus operandi, I thought about teaching. When I decided to be a teacher, it was because I loved music and I thought it was important enough that kids needed to learn it too. I also saw myself as a high-school band director of a NYSSMA gold-level rated ensemble, one that was invited to play at the annual state conference. I would be a woman achieving at this level (which is still relatively unusual, especially as compared to vocal directors). Well, we all know how that vision turned out. When one graduates, one takes the job that is available. And here I am, 18 years later. I don't regret not "moving up" into the high school level; I don't feel like I've shortchanged myself at all. Along the way, I've found that what I love (along with music and kids) is the process of teaching. I understand now that I could teach at pretty much any level and be happy with it, because I love the process. (But please don't ask me to direct the marching band. Please.)

And this relates to In that last post, I grouched a fair bit about how I've looked around at festivals and on-line and thought, "I can do better than that." And then I whined about how the once-newhipandwow indie people had become their own little Kool Kids Klub...but how I also kinda wanted to be a little part of it. Reading that, it sounds like the only way that I can be sure I'm doing better than "that" is to achieve some kind of public recognition. Something like a rare-female-gold-level-NYSSMA-rating-earning band director.

But I don't teach for that anymore. I teach for the love of teaching. Maybe my face will be in some journal article some day, and maybe not. It doesn't matter any more. I know I'm doing right by my students, and by my self, and that beats publication any day.

So why not apply this to my fibery ideas? I began to think about what I *wouldn't* choose to produce. I hate sewing, so that was easy, as was anything involving googly eyes, little plastic baby bottles, or a blowtorch. I don't have an eye for sweater design, and I'm convinced the world doesn't need more "patterns" for scarves that are basically long lengths of something pulled from Barbara Walker. (I feel that way about socks too, BTW. A sock pattern has to pretty much slap me upside the head with its beauty for me to buy it...and then I usually still don't.) Custom knitting and/or finishing? When you finish laughing at the thought of that, you can finish reading, OK?

Handspinning? Hmmm, now we're getting warmer. I love spinning, and can spin faster than I can knit any day. Actually, that's a problem. My spinning output, if I put my mind to it, will rapidly outpace my knitting output. Also, while I enjoy spinning many of the brightly-colored fibers that are so popular lately, I don't love knitting with them. It would be easy to part with them, and I also have a nearby and agreeable source for as much as I might need. Same goes for breed-specific yarns, and that same source tends to have some pretty neat ones.

Dyeing? Again, I can dye in greater quantity than I could knit up. I could dye small amounts, I know...but I don't enjoy stranded knitting, and eternal pairs of mittens or socks, and endless hats don't charge my battery either. And I've previously spoken about how much I love the mysteries of natural dyeing.

What it comes down to, again, is a love of the process. I love spinning for being spinning. I love dyeing for being dyeing. Yet in teaching, the fruits of my process are ephemeral, shared with my kids and then gone. In dyeing and spinning, however, the fruits of my process already have their own room and if I go after them with my usual focus and energy, will take over the second floor of my house. Therefore, I want to have a business so that I may continue to dance through the process.

I don't need to have this to pay the electric bill, and at the same time, I don't have the option of quitting my day job to follow my heart, as the saying goes. (There's following one's heart, and then there's defaulting on one's mortgage.) Luckily, my day job is not a soul-sucking morass I'm desperate to escape. I have to remind myself that I don't need to build up the inventory of the average LYS to get this started, and that I don't have to spin AND dye everything. One, the other, and occasionally both will be fine.

“To find your own way is to follow your bliss. This involves analysis,
watching yourself and seeing where real, deep bliss is;
not the quick little excitement, but the real, deep, life-filling bliss.”
Joseph Campbell, 1904-1987

For me, the quick little excitement is public recognition. But it's too brief, and too unreliable. My bliss is in process, and no one can take that away from me.


Batty said...

Part-time job, part-time fiber? Maybe that would make you even happier...

Barb said...

Perhaps; it's not a financial option unless the fiber thing really takes off. Luckily, I have summer break coming in about eight weeks, and while I'll still teach a few private students, my time is much more my own.

Anonymous said...

That's kind of what I do with the spinning- I really need to step it up a little. An Etsy shop is a great beginning venue- when you're ready, you know we'll all talk it up for you.