At the Blend Conference last year I came into a session late after hopping away from two other sessions that didn’t quite grab me, and I was surprised to see the speaker wearing cat ears.
I never learned why she was wearing cat ears, but it did make it much easier to find the video of her speech eight months later when I was searching for it. The presentation was called Shepherding Unicorns: How to be a Good Web Mentor, and the reason I was looking for the video was for something the speaker, Jen Myers, said near the 29:55 mark:
We’re in danger sometimes of seeing more people come up to be consumers rather than creators. And I actually think that’s really scary and dangerous, not to mention we’re depriving them of all the great joy and potential there is in creating things…I want my daughter to be a creator. I don’t want her to just be consuming what other people are making for her.
I’ve thought about this several times since the speech and wondered to myself, “Am I consuming more than I’m creating?” I’m a full-time freelancer, so I have definitely been productive over the past year. I’ve launched several web sites, written lots of code, and edited lots of images. So, yes, I have been creating almost every single day, but I’ve been creating things for other people.
When I think about what I’ve created for myself in the past year…the list gets a lot shorter. I’ve been blogging about once a week because of my ongoing blog bet with Shauna. I created a vision board in February. And I…put together an IKEA table last week. Does that count? I don’t think that counts. Last weekend I went on a coding bender and managed to design and launch my new site in three days, and although it was exhausting and provoked my headache, I felt a fantastic buzz of accomplishment and pride once it was done. I kept clicking through it, looking at different pages on different devices. I watched TV for a bit and then decided to pick up my iPad and look at my web site again. There’s a high that comes with creating something you love that cannot be replicated with liquor or cupcakes. Trust me, I’ve tried.
One of the enjoyable things about writing a somewhat popular blog for many years was that sense of creation. I was building something that wasn’t there before. I was meeting people because of what I’d constructed. I got to go places and do things I would never have done if I hadn’t made a blog where there was no blog before. It was really awesome and empowering. I think I miss that.
There are things I don’t miss about that time too, like the never-ending pressure to write more entries, the constant threat of cruel-hearted criticism, the incessant need to maintain if not increase my traffic, and the foolish way I would compare my accomplishments to others. It could get a bit crazy, and I secretly felt some relief when visitors started drifting away.
However, I do miss that constant sense of creation. I used to be excited to write new entries, but half the time lately I do it more because I’m trying to keep up the habit of writing rather than because I passionately need to share something with the world. When I was writing my books, I had to cut back on my time consuming TV or books because I was spending time creating. These days I spend more of my time watching TV or reading other people’s writing than creating my own. I blame a bit of that on my chronic pain because it can be difficult to sit in front of a computer when your head is throbbing. But some of the blame is just on me. Losing focus. Losing the plot. Losing whatever spark was there before.
So, I should probably do something about that. I’m not exactly sure what it will be, but the desire has been percolating inside of me. Perhaps a new web site design is just the first step. Who knows what’s next? There is always something new to create.
And the end of last year I finished the first draft of my first novel. I had written a whole book! That was an amazing feeling. I hope to top it one day by seeing it in print. Having created something that took real effort and discipline and imagination and WORK and that was something I had always wanted to do was incomparable. Keep on creating!
Sue B says
Do you have any hobbies that are not computer related? I knit, quilt and run a Girl Scout troop which means I keep stumbling over new crafts. Hand creating opens you up in other ways than word based creating. I find I’m not drained but rather quieted when knitting. Just something to consider.
Jennette Fulda says
I have done crochet on and off. It’s an interesting hobby to have when you own a cat 🙂
Did you know coloring has become popular among some adults? http://www.npr.org/2015/04/01/396634471/artist-goes-outside-the-lines-with-coloring-books-for-grown-ups People who do it say it has that same sort of quieting effect.
Interesting question (C vs. C). I took a “choose your career” type class which had a questionnaire to prioritize values. I was surprised (and rather chagrined) that it didn’t have “producing something” as a value. That leaves out artists, crafters, and skilled laborers.
Oh, this so resonates with me. Lately I feel like anything I write is complete trash, and it’s more like a chore than something that keeps me going. I’m sure it’s a phase, but when you hear that “stay in the habit! write every day!” it starts to get you really depressed. Day after day of trash really sucks. I hope you feel good about what you’re creating soon. The site looks great!
I weirdly know exactly what you mean. I used to be super active and “well known” in a particular internet niche that was very creative (*coughfanfiction*), but I totally stepped away from it a few years ago. It’s weird to look back at that time and think about how it felt. I mean, I’m in a much better place in my life now, but I still miss that feeling of…community, maybe? Contribution?
Also, idk if this is weird to say or not, but I’m so glad to see you posting again. I never dropped you from my reader.
It’s funny to see the adult coloring thing being acknowledged. People have been doing this for a long time.
Did your cat chase the yarn while you were crocheting? Mine used to pounce on the fabric when I used my sewing machine. Furry little goofballs.
Would you ever consider doing an update post on both your weight and headache situation? I don’t ask to be rude but many of us have followed you since the beginning and would love to know how things are going.
Jennette Fulda says
@Mollie – The cat likes to chew on the yarn. I had a friend whose cat ate some yarn which became twisted around his digestive system and had to have surgery to fix it. So, I don’t like to leave yarn lying around.
As for my weight and my headache, the headache is mostly tolerable though it still impacts my life. The weight is not so great, but I’m working on it.
Oh, how scary for your friend’s kitty! Good to know not to keep it around.
Thank you for updating us. I had so hoped the headaches had left you for good. I’m so glad to hear they are at least tolerable now.
Don’t sweat the weight, you’ll get it back to where you want it. You’ve been through so much with the pain, it’s very understandable.
All the best to you!