Today, for the 52nd day in a row, I took a photo of something I was in the process of making and I posted it on Instagram and all the other usual places. (Today it was a doodle I worked on while taking ten minutes off work to watch the end of the hockey game, because obviously.)
And on this 52nd day of my Year of Making, I’m ready to declare this project a resounding success. It’s not a success simply because I’m still doing it. It’s a success because through this project I’ve achieved something I’ve longed to achieve but never managed to make happen before.
In his (outstanding, you should read it) novel The Hotel New Hampshire, John Irving wrote the character of a coach, and this coach’s approach to fitness is summed up as: “You have to get obsessed and stay obsessed.”
Now, for me, with limited attention span, over-active imagination, and a healthy sense of general life responsibility, the obsession I’ve wanted to achieve has never meant, like, all-consuming fixation. I’ve just wanted to walk my talk, you know? Have making play an important role in my everyday life, not just in theory, but in practice.
I had high hopes for Year of Making, because I decided to approach it with as little constraint as possible. “Making” could involve dinner preparation, knitting a sweater, or colouring with my kid. Because I didn’t limit myself to doing any one sort of thing, or doing anything to a particular degree, I’ve not once felt stressed about this project. Not once have I felt it a burden. Not once have I even felt inclined to fake it. Most of the time, I’ve just trained myself to notice when I make stuff, where before I might not have appreciated how much I do make. But occasionally, I’ve found myself telling Greg that I’ll watch TV with him in half an hour, because I want to really concentrate on making something first. Which is the sort of thing that makes me feel happy and more engaged during the limited time I have that’s not devoted to work or parenting or being a partner or friend. Where before Year of Making I’d do much of my crafting in front of the TV, I now make myself time without distraction so I can try out new techniques or follow involved instructions, or just sit in the quiet and let my mind wander while my fingers mess with something or another.
My appreciation for this project transcends the simple satisfaction I feel just from sticking with it. My true delight comes from finally having gotten around to making experimentation a central part of my creative life. Talk about walking my talk.
In the eight weeks I’ve been doing this project, I’ve cooked meals I’d never considered cooking before, I’ve made soap for the first (not the last) time, and I’ve been doodling and lettering where before this project I did neither. (It’s the doodling and lettering that’s becoming a creative obsession, actually. Last night, I crawled into bed with coloured pencils, such is my increasingly uncontrollable drive to colour stuff in.)
And still, I’ve continued knitting and sewing. I haven’t replaced my old hobbies with new ones, I’ve just been making more time for making stuff.
And that part â€“ making more time for making stuff â€“ is the reason I love this project so much.
What about you? Have you been having a year of making? How’s it going?
PS In case you missed it, I’ve made a high-res printable file of the Be Explicit drawing I did in my journal. Get it free, or pay something for it and I’ll donate half to Charity Water.
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