Let’s start this off with a big old disclaimer: FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS.
If you didn’t already know, I am a 35-year-old, married, stay at home parent to two children ages 6 and 9. My oldest is autistic. We have an old dog, a house that needs some work, and a car that’s over 10 years old. If it weren’t for being invited along by Grandparents, we wouldn’t take vacations. We have one 6-year-old iPad. My phone is fine but it takes cloudy selfies because of damage from being dropped during an autism meltdown.
I went to an expensive private college because my parents could afford it and got a BA majoring in Art and Music – a degree I had absolutely no idea how to use. After graduating, I worked a desk job for years while supporting my husband during grad school and the beginning of his career. My pregnancies were nightmarish. And it wasn’t until I had spent years at home, caring for my two children, that I began to figure out what it was that I wanted to do with my life.
These days I couldn’t stop writing and creating new crochet patterns even if I wanted to. Ideas spring to life and claw at my brain to be made into reality. Sometimes I feel less like an artist, and more like a conduit for creatures that demand to exist. But I am an artist. Six-year-old me is doing a jig somewhere, because she answered the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” truthfully. I want to be an artist. I am an artist. It’s surreal.
When I’m not taking care of my kids, I spend all available moments of my time, from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed, working. I work until midnight most days. I write, type, format, photograph, edit, test, edit again, publish and provide support for all of my patterns. While I receive tremendous support from my husband and our families, I do all of this work myself. I am not complaining. It is a lot of time and a lot of energy, and I don’t want to be doing anything else. I love this work.
Less than 5 times a year, I apply to attend Maker’s Markets or Craft Fairs. I bring all the things I’ve made in service of writing the patterns to these events and try to sell them to clear out space in my home and my bins for the coming year of pattern writing. I’ve been doing it this way for 3 years. I make A LOT of things. I price them on the low end of what they are worth, often less than what I should price them for. These markets are not how I make a living.
I am an introvert. I am happy alone in my well-lit cave, surrounded by yarn like a fiber hoarding dragon, hooking away at my designs. I challenge myself by applying to and attending these markets and fairs. I find them absolutely mentally and physically exhausting. But at the same time, they connect me with people who appreciate my work. I get to hear, in person, someone gasp when looking at something I made. And each time I see a child’s eyes go big and round and gleam when looking at a unicorn I created, it makes my heart happy.
This week I’ve been reminded that I’m not the bees knees. I didn’t actually think I was the bees knees for real, but I was starting to feel sort of comfortable – at home in the idea that I AM AN ARTIST, HEAR ME ROAR. I had a rough show a couple weeks ago – a market/fair where I barely even made back the entry fee for attending. Several days after that I was rejected from one of two shows I applied to locally that I have applied to before and attended before – too many applicants, not enough spaces. Too many fiber artists. Not enough room for my work. I’m a big girl. I understand.
Today I was rejected from the market I really stretched myself to apply to. A market I would have had to travel to. A market I would have needed to stay in a hotel for. A market I visited years ago, a market in a beloved city I used to live in, a market I was truly excited about. It was okay that I didn’t do well at this last market, it was okay that I didn’t get into this local market coming up, because I was applying for this BIG-DEAL market and my stomach butterflies would NOT shut up about it – I was so excited.
And Today I was rejected from it.
I’m not going to lie, my confidence is shaken. The butterflies are silent, and in their stead seems to be a pit in my stomach. I know this isn’t the be all and the end all, but rejection hurts. Putting yourself out there, making yourself vulnerable, telling people I WANT THIS THING and I WILL WORK FOR THIS THING and I AM READY FOR THIS THING and having them respond with, “No, Thank you. We do not want what you have to offer.” … it hurts.
I am a delicate snowflake. Watch me melt.
I have been knocked down many times. I do hard things every day. I have faced roadblocks and hardship many times, and overcome. I just haven’t done that with my art yet. Not really. But I can finally draw upon that expensive degree, and all those miserable, withering art critiques I sat through. I can finally know, REALLY know, that even when I’m knocked down, with a pit in my stomach, hemorrhaging confidence, I can get back up and keep trying. Because I can’t stop creating, I won’t stop creating. I will try again. I will apply again. I will keep working, and I will remember this “no” and hopefully that will make the next “yes” even sweeter. I’m going to live in this misery for a minute, feel the disappointment, and then dust myself off and move on.
This is a hard moment. And that’s okay.