Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Doubt Trap

I have always had this idea that life contains this point of certainty. When you feel like things are clearer. Where the path is more defined by experience. That when you reach this certain point (still undefined), the decisions facing you become clearer and easier. Wouldn't that be nice?

The reality of life seems to be that the only thing I can be sure of is that doubt will always be along for the ride. I guess in the end it is managing the doubt. Knowing when to listen to those questioning and skeptical voices, and when to ignore them. Right now I seem to be trying to avoid the questions!
Lately I have been recieving invitations to do various shows. On one level it is very flattering...."They like me! They really like me!"......but on the other hand, I am sometimes just another warm body to fill a space and write a check. Quite a few are ones that I know I have no interest in doing, and they go right into the recycle bin. But then there are the ones that make me pause. Ones that I might have said I didn't want to do for one reason or another. And now I feel the need to question that position. The general buzz might be bad, but there are those differing voices from some people I trust.
On the other hand, what if I spend all that money....and the shows I am considering are not cheap ones to do....and all I have done is help the promoter's bottom line, and stretched mine even thinner? This is the risk. Am I up for the risk? And what about doing some advertising? Should I focus my scarce resources there instead?
The craft business is not a vibrant and healthy one right now for artists. Some artists are doing well. But many are struggling. I am getting by. Growing steadily each year, but not well enough that I can act on a whim or impulse.

NPR had a program on the other day about how we are developing two economies. The overall economic statistics are meaningless because they are averaging two diverse pools. Those who are doing well, are doing very, very well. But for the rest of is a struggle. Purchasing a handcrafted item is not something that is being done on impulse or a whim anymore. The cash that was once available for those kinds of purchases now goes in the gas tank or to medical expenses. One theory, put forth during the radio program, was that this greater separation between the haves and the have nots will ultimately hurt the rich as well. Spending by the masses slows down. The investments of the well off will not perform as well. The whole economy gets dragged down.

Trickle down has never been an economic theory I subscribed to. If it was working, the well off would be spending their money at the fine craft shows far more freely than I have witnessed. Instead, the majority of the money seems to be invested so that it can grow more money. The real movement of money for goods and services happens lower down. And this has stagnated, if not slid into reverse.

This whole macro scenario just feeds the doubt on my very micro level. Is doing a show that might be a risk the right thing to do in this climate? But is fear the way I want to run my business? By running away from fear, am I running into debt? You get the picture.....the cyclical whirlpool of doubt has pulled me in.

Generally I am a glass half full kind of person. But when it comes to making some of these investments in my business, I am feeling very unsure. The data is scarce and sketchy. The cost large.

In the meantime, the studio is safe. The creative forces don't seem to be as bothered by the external economic forces. They are a natural phenomenon that just goes on and on. As long as they are fed and nurtured. I have been on a wave of exploration for the last month that has been an incredible joyous ride. This jolt of reality is jarring and unsettling. But if I am to be a working artist, necessary to explore.

I wish I could end this post with some sort of satisfying conclusion. A decision of some sort. But today is not a day for certainty. It is a day of limbo. The best I can offer .....stay tuned. Either I make a decision, or the deadline lapses.

Here are some pictures of what I have been working on for the last few days...I may be full of doubt, but I am having fun in the studio!


artandtea said...

Hi Judy, Yes, amidst all of those inner gremlin voices of doubt, we always have our art and fun creating in our studios! One of my favorite mantras if I'm having a "little dark cloud over my head" day, "And this too shall pass." I love your new work. The earrings remind me of stacks of yummy treats. -Karen

Judy said...

Hi Karen, Thanks for the comment. It was not fun to write about the doubts, but I do think they are universal. But when we are in it, it can feel very much like we are the only ones experiencing it. By sharing it, I hope others can see that we all feel this way sometimes. And yes, it is great to know that we have the studio to escape to when the cloud is too dark. I am glad you like the new work. It has been a lot of fun to explore.

mann said...

Hi Judy!
I've been reading your blog for few months now and just want to thank you for writing down your thoughts, sharing tips and showing your gorgeous work. My "speciality" is wool and fiber not pc but I always come back to your blog and read your posts with great pleasure.
And your new work is simply beautiful, a delight to look at.
Marianne from Estonia

Judy said...

Marianne, Thanks so much for your feedback. I love to just play with fiber from time to time. I checked out your Flickr pictures and love your crochet work. The colors and textures are great. My sister-in-law's mother is from Estonia....perhaps we have more connections than just my blog!