Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive

Thinking about Work-Work-Work Balance

So this time of year is panning out to be a lot of what I need: Lots of open time blocs to manage things like household and self-care stuff, as well as time to focus hard on the shop and writing while still getting enough hours at the sustaining part-time gig that I'm unlikely to starve.

Get tired of sweet potatoes and chicken, maybe, but not starve.

And what I'm noticing is that it's Very Easy for me to grab the jewelry stuff, or the embroidery, but hard to sit down to the writing. Part of that is a matter of where the proverbial chair is -- Starbucks -- but part of it too is that the tangible stuff is tangible. I can assemble it, hold it, look at it. I can put it up on my shop and look at that. I can get buttons with my art on them in the mail and then hug that parcel because I'm proud of it.

Writing is slow. So slow. The doing is slow, the revising is slow, the path to a thing I can hold is slow. The payoff is different -- a necklace I can sell for $20-30 and make more back from that than I ever would for a traditionally published paperback, or a sale on an ebook -- more "real" somehow.

It's easier to justify my choices to people with the shop. Oh sure, the Skunkworks has only been live for about a month, and I've sold nothing, but I can point and say, "Here. Here is evidence of my effort. I'm not lazy. I'm working."

Possibly it doesn't help that my current writing project is wholly unsalable -- it's fan work, drawing on properties that are Very Fucking Owned By Other People -- and the parts of me that aren't good at being okay with impractical things want to devalue that, or feel like it's not valuable to the people with whom I live (and therefore owe money to), and that it is therefore Wrong. Like, where do I get off calling myself a writer when I'm just some dude who makes jewelry in his friend's basement between bouts of churning out wish-fulfillment slash?

And honestly, the only useful answer to that is a resounding Fuck Off.

Creativity is creativity. My job is to keep working, keep grinding even when I feel like an impostor, and do the work of figuring out how much of what work needs doing, both in the fiscal sense and the sense of keeping my artistic fire burning. The part-time gig doesn't take ALL the financial pressure off, but as I get more into the groove of doing creative work that should fill in the gaps via Etsy and Patreon, my real job becomes the work of keeping on, and refusing to let those internal voices let me feel like an impostor.

Nobody has to like what I'm working on, or think it's worthwhile for me to be a real writer or a real artist. I just have to do the thing. That's it.

And that? I can do.

(Even if I should probably get over the anxiety/procrastination thing with the writing.)


Thinking about pacing, disruption

So coming into 2018, I laid some groundwork. Supports, basically, to try and keep me active, functional, and productive. I got the shop back up to spec in December, made sure I had my Patreon ducks in a row, etc.

And I resurrected my bullet journal habit.

For a lot of people, a bujo is an unambiguous positive. It's a space for fun expression and organization, it makes people feel (and helps them actually be) productive. And that's amazing. For me, though, it's a bit more like playing with matches.

I think most of us still have a part of ourselves that is trained into wanting to be good, get praise, etc., and conversely does not want to be bad, disappoint, and so on. What I'm not sure of is whether everyone has a problem with those forces in themselves quite the way I do. Combine that with the near universal habit of rearranging shit in the name of procrastination and/or having a thing in life one can control, and I can get...well, out of hand with these things. I'll burn myself out, or I'll aim too high and have to keep postponing things day after day after day until opening my bujo is an exercise in anxiety, frustration, and despair.

That my ability to easily visualize a task is not the same as being able to do it instantly or easily is a lesson I've always had to fight with.

And so every day I use this thing, I am trying to be careful. To leave breathing room instead of overloading myself. To try and set goals that won't overwhelm me. To give myself the flexibility that my life requires in order to remain functional. Like, I'm hitting my goals, and feeling pretty good about that, but I am aware of my own capacity for bullshit. I am aware that I can burn myself by doing absolutely nothing at all.

It's hard. Not quite two weeks in, I'm still learning. And while I'm not a fan at this point in my life of assigning success narratives to things -- i.e. "this is hard, but if I power through it will be great later!" -- I do want to hope that this experience will result in a net positive.

Just, uh, don't ask me to pencil it in.


Hey. Hi again.

I vaguely remember, somewhere in the jumble of my early childhood, a trip to a timeshare my grandmother had at Table Rock Lake. I have no recollection of the trip other than the drive being long and boring, and peering out of the car window at what might or might not have been the lake. I don't even know if we stayed, or for how long.

So when I say posting here again feels like opening up an old cabin for the first time in years, I have literally no idea what I'm talking about. But I did do some work fixing up a house in my twenties, letting out the must, and making some cosmetic changes. So that'll have to be close enough.

So hey. Hi. This is me.

I do a jumble of things. I'm a writer, and that takes a long time, and a lot of what I've written is small, or is out of print at this point. I'm an artist, and that takes a little less time, and is easier to show off. I'm a crafter, which sometimes takes the least amount of time, but doesn't always share as easily because everything is a one-off.

Deciding what to do with this space over the past few weeks has been tricky. I share my progress every week over at Patreon, so that's not really what this space is for. And my shop isn't here -- I keep it on Etsy -- so I'm not exactly doing e-commerce here. Which, hey, I'm good with that.

What I really want to do here is to make a space where I can keep folks up-to-date about how the work is going, where to find it, and thoughts about things that relate to it/are adjacent to it.

That should be enough, I think.