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How do I see a difficult art process to the end?

Accepting the fact I will lose focus no matter how dedicated I am to the project is a good start. Like I'm taught to "return to my breathing" when I realize I've lost my focus in meditation, I can return to the desire in my heart to see something many times as needed.

It's also good to know from the very beginning that there is no finish. Of course you might put final touches on a large painting and ship it off to someone or hang it on your wall and get to call it "done." But, what you learned while doing it? That you will take into the next painting or just out with you on a walk and you won't ever be finished with it until this lifetime of yours is finished as well. So learn to enjoy the learning.

I'm writing about this now because I am getting close to publishing a book that's been in the works for nearly 30 years. It's been very poorly conceived and written, revised, thrown away in disgust, started over, rewritten, shared too early, rearranged, refocused on, over and over, and now it looks like it will be printed this summer, ready for the world or not.

I learned some things along the way. About myself mostly.

Worrying about whether or not something is going to turn out good, wondering if it is even worthy of doing before you've even tried to do it, fearing others might not approve of it (or buy it) before you even make it, is a big waste of time. It helps me more to think about how I can make whatever I have so far a little better than it was in the moment before. Sometimes just one word at a time. It's definitely a learning process. So you might want to focus on the joy of learning.

You don't have to have a vision of how something is going to turn out in order to start it. I know, I know...having outlines can help, having a direction can help, and even having a vision of how you THINK it should turn out can help. But ,for me, the joy in the whole process comes from not knowing what's going to happen and just exploring the infinite possibilities, starting from what I do know, until I invent or find something that fits perfectly or completes the picture.

Jigsaw, the orange kitty that didn't show up until this last version of my book, is like that. Couldn't have created him until I'd lived a bit longer, met some new people and found myself looking for a puzzle piece to tie some stories together. And there he was, meowing at my feet (I mean the feet of a character in the book).

Like anything you want to do in your life (particularly if it's going to take some stretching and commitment or cause some growth spurt discomfort), take a moment to really look at how you think you might feel at the end of your life if you didn't do it. Or maybe just at the end of the month if you didn't follow through with something. Find your own reasons. For me, it often came down to my being tired of thinking about finishing it and having it on my to-do list forever. Its "undaneness" felt heavy and I was tired of carrying it around like a promise to myself that felt more like a lie.

So good or bad in the end, I set out to just have some fun figuring out how to get it off my todo list and move on. We were also in a pandemic so I had ALOT of time to devote to it.

Was it all fun? No. It required disciplined practices (like timed writing periods everyday), it required changing my mindset about it having to be good enough for the outside world to approve... to just doing my best and then trying to make my best a little better.

There might still be a few tweaks to it. I've also learned that it's good to get help along the way and you don't have to do everything yourself. So, there will be some other eyes on it to catch things I didn't see before I let it loose.

In the end, which really isn't an end as I said above, I just tried to write something that was true to my heart and the best I can do for now. And that's good enough for starters ... to whatever needs to be done next.

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Mary Lou Taylor
Mary Lou Taylor
Jan 27, 2022

I really appreciate your insight on how long this book has taken you before it is published. Can’t wait to get a “signed“ copy.

I’m learning to be okay with what I’m accomplishing (crocheting) and try not to compare my work with those who are seasoned “hookers”.

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