Investing in creativity

I attended a fall festival today at a local orchard. There was a corn maze, a hayride, games for kids, live music, food and drink available, lots of produce and products made from produce (like apple cider, jams, jellies, butters, and more), and a collection of artists selling their wares.

One of the vendors that I talked to was from Niger, and he produced lovely silver jewelry. He commented that he was a sixth-generation silversmith. It’s hard for me to imagine the amount of time and practice he must have put into his craft as he learned it from his elders. It also made me wonder whether he ever wished he had been born into a different line of work. Or did he grow to love this craft as his skill grew and his creations improved?

My conversation with him reminded me that it’s impossible to create well without investing in the time and practice needed to learn the craft of the kind of thing one wishes to create. There is always a learning curve (some steeper than others). Everyone has to start out as a beginner even when born as a descendent of generations of that craft.

The only way to learn is to start practicing, but it’s impossible to practice without first investing in the necessary raw materials with which to create. Sometimes that means spending money on supplies and tools and equipment before you know whether you are any good at something … or even whether you enjoy it very much. But when the drive to learn (or perfect) a particular craft won’t go away, sometimes it’s necessary to take the leap to invest enough to find out how much you enjoy it and whether you can learn enough to be any good at it.

I took such a leap today.

Many years ago now, I had the chance to learn a little bit about woodworking when I dated someone who had all of the tools and equipment (and knowledge) that I could try out. I particularly learned to enjoy using a wood lathe and a scroll saw. The last few weeks, the hunger to get back to working with wood just won’t leave me alone. I have had so many ideas spring to mind that I just can’t shake, and I’m eager to try them out to see if they will work, but I no longer have easy access to the equipment now that I live in a different state.

I’ve been checking out prices for mini lathes and scroll saws to find out how much the necessary equipment would cost me, and it’s a rather daunting expense just to try something out. So I went looking on Craigslist and found a mini lathe that someone had bought and never used and now wanted to sell to get it out of storage. It had never been taken out of the box, and I was able to buy it for much less than I’d been able to find anywhere else.

It may not be the highest quality mini lathe ever made, but it’s good enough to allow me to work with it again, put in some practice time, and make sure I really enjoy this work enough to put in the investment to be good at it. If so, I can invest in a higher quality one later when I have a better feel for what features I want. If not, I haven’t wasted a lot of money on something that doesn’t work out. This feels like a creative solution to a creativity roadblock.

I’ve already unboxed it and gotten it all set up. Now I just need to get my lathe tools back from the person I loaned them to, and I can get to work. I can’t wait to get started!

For now, it feels really good to have invested in my creative dreams. It’s an investment in me, and I think that’s money well spent.

A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.

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