New year 2016

First day nerves

I am shit scared. And by shit scared I mean so utterly stuffed with terror that I feel as if said fear will burst from my chest, Alien-like, before screeching across my sewing room and splattering my button collection with gore. And, yeah, I know that this isn’t the sort of thing you’ll usually read on a small business’ website but I’ve gotta be honest on behalf of myself and lots of other creative types: new year means blind panic and I’m right there panicking with them. Why? Because we all think we’ve forgotten how to do our craft.

New year 2016

No, really, for some reason towards the end of my Crimbo and new year break I become convinced that I’ve forgotten every last, teeny, negligible scrap of my sewing knowledge. I also become convinced that I’ve utterly forgotten how to run my business, manage my website, chat to customers, take orders, keep accounts and do so much as identify a bobbin when it’s been shoved up my arse. It means that by the time I get to the first working day of the year, I’m all but retching with horror at having to launch myself back into a way of life of which I think I know nothing. It’s a living incarnation of those inexplicable nightmares I have where I’m sitting the final exams of my degree after three years of missing lectures. But with needles. And pattern envelopes.

Thing is, I’m not alone. Other crafters I know go through the same fear, some being so struck with mortification that they can’t even craft, even though it’s a craft they adore. Even the writer Caitlin Moran, Times columnist and author, recently wrote about the anxiety she feels whenever she starts a piece of work, an anxiety that results in the inevitable, audible wail of “I can’t do it! I CAAAAAN’T!”. That’s exactly what I’ve been hollering to Conjugal Kraken since the stroke of midnight on new year’s day and if he doesn’t want to throttle me yet I as sure as shit want to throttle myself.

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And yeah you could ask me why I have this anxiety but the chances of my being able to give you a sentient answer are about as slim as me snogging Paddy Grant. It could be because of all of the new year talk, talk that piles pressure onto me (indeed, everyone) to make the following 365 days more exciting/ successful/ productive/ creative/ famous. It could be that after a fortnight of laying on the sofa while inhaling Ferrero Rocher I’ve simply gotten out of the habit of engaging my creative brain. It could also be a hangover from my breakdown, where that mental earthquake shattered my ability to judge myself fairly.

More than that though I think it’s because, oddly, I love what I do and I just don’t want to fuck it up. You’d wet yourself with bogglement at my ability to produce a perfect piece of sewing, only to tear myself apart over one wonky yet invisible stitch on a hidden seam. Forget the fact that I successfully made well over 200 commissions for happy customers in 2015 because I’ll still manage to sweat over the button tab I managed to bugger up on my own glasses case, that you never saw, waaaay back in March. And that’s the bind bloody sweat I get into every day, so imagine it after a fortnight of not stitching a single bloody thing and you’ll start wondering how I even managed to take an accurate shit this morning without gibbering myself into a stupor.

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And that’s partly why I am writing this now, to lance what is essentially a creative boil (delightful imagery, I know). Consider it online therapy, where I sick up my fears onto my laptop, post them where you can all point and snigger and somehow help me get over the ludicrous, self-built hurdle that’s currently straddling the patio between my house and my sewing shed. What you’re reading now is an equivalent of me cocking my leg to get over it.

Of course, within days of writing this I’ll be at my sewing machine again as if nothing had ever happened. I won’t have forgotten how to apply bias binding, turn a hem or whip stitch after all. In fact, I’ll probably be launching myself into some obscure embroidery stitch that hasn’t been witnessed since 1652. And that’s because, just like in We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, there is no way over, under or around this anxiety of mine. The only way is through it, like seeing the flaming exit of a burning house and running for the light.

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The glorious Carrie Fisher once said, “What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow”. So I’ll talk sense into myself, gingerly pick up reels of thread to reacquaint myself with them, force feed logic into my own brain, read the beautiful customer comments on this here website and repeat Conjugal Kraken’s rhetorical question of “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,”. Excuse me while I strap on my bib, then, will you? I have some serious scoffage to do…

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