You may have noticed I haven’t written much about sketching, or watercolor, or art supplies lately. Instead, I seem to be fixated on writing about how to best use one’s time for the most pleasant result at the end of the day. Nothing wrong with that, but where did the obsession with sketching go?
It hasn’t gone anywhere really, in fact it is more focused than ever, just elsewhere. All of my energy these last many weeks has gone into the nuts-and-bolts work of writing a book that has been nipping at my heels for quite a while. The writing is now finished and polished, and all that’s left to do are a few more illustrations. Then, out of the blue, I felt a jab to the gut:
Who needs another how-to book about sketching?
It felt like a sudden stick in my bicycle spokes, stopped me dead in my tracks. Who are you kidding, girl?
Then this morning a fellow-blogger’s post landed in my inbox. These words hit home (underlined emphasis mine):
“Learn a skill– We all have something to share, to give… music, writing or something that the locals can get some benefit out of…your skill works wonders in uplifting the environment and oneself.
“Know the Elements of Life- The slow deep breathing… long walking times tune your heart and lungs in its own right into meditation order. The purest form of seeing and keeping ourselves and nature in check and healthy.
“Visit local writers, teachers and local artisans- One of my favorite things after I settle down at a place is to look out for people who are living intimately within themselves and are the bed rock of the society. You can walk around asking for such people if you are curious enough to know something deeper… I did have to learn a few things the hard way but many things that I have mentioned here were received through a long time of seeing. Very slowly without me being aware of it. But I can tell you that the source of it all was only being respectful, first and foremost to yourself. That’s it! Respecting oneself.
“Regardless of what you may think, my only reason to be here writing is to become a bridge for anyone who is seeking…, to share ideas, resources, memories that even if you are not there, your mere thought can uplift somebody’s moment.”
I thank this gentle man, Narayan Kaudinya, whose writing I only know about because he stumbled across one of my blog posts and liked it. The feeling is mutual.
So you see, that is how life works. We each are going along just fine with our to-do lists and daily activities, content, questioning nothing. Then it happens, out of nowhere comes a smidgeon of self-doubt, because you realize most of your friends may like you well enough, but they don’t give a fig about joining you in that hobby of yours that for you is the meaning of life itself.
After finishing the final draft of my book last week, I looked at the next steps, how to hire a graphic designer, and decide the best route to self-publishing both an ebook and a paperback because after all, everyone reads ebooks nowadays, but I really, really want my pride and joy to be held in people’s hands as well. Then I did a little market research on Amazon, to see what sort of books are already out there in my tiny niche market, and I was met with a tsunami of 5-star reviews, gazillions of copies sold, artists whose books turn into workshops and webinars and world tours, and my shoulders just drooped.
“I just wanted to write a little book, that’s all,” I said to myself. “Something to help anyone who is a sketching wannabe and doesn’t know where to start. I don’t want to build a business. I just want to write this little book, print it, make it available to anyone who wants it, and get back to my simple, pleasant life. That’s all.”
My new acquaintance Narayan reminded me that my humble ambitions are enough. It may be un-American to have no interest in tooting one’s horn, but there you have it. I am back on track, thank goodness. I scared myself for a minute there.
What do you do when your belief in yourself falters? When you lose sight of the value of your particular contribution to this world? How do you regain your balance?
I try to remember The Cha-Cha of Confidence, a phrase I just made up but it seems to describe my experience fairly well. I move forward and back, side to side, shift the weight from one foot to the other, and it looks like I really know what I’m doing if I don’t lose my balance, right?
When I do start to topple a little, I try to wear the momentary discomfort as a loose garment, to paraphrase St Francis of Assisi. I know something will come along, unbidden by me, to tap me gently on the shoulder and reawaken me to the fact that who I am and what I am doing are both just fine the way they are.
Hitting this little bump of insecurity actually put me back in touch with the readers I hope to have for this book.
Bring me your timid, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be able to sketch for fun, but who don’t know what to ask first. Guide them to this book, that will hopefully bring them a laugh and a very small supply list. Let me hold their hand until they smile, turn to me and say, “I’m good now, I can head out on my own. But can we get together for coffee later so I can show you what I did?”
Certainly, I say, returning their smile. That’s all I ever wanted.