As for Eating Art Work, the design/art/craft business… as of today, it’s still alive. There have been some unpleasant ‘learning experiences’, although none as painful as dealing with my dad. Hindsight isn’t as clear yet, but I can see that I’ve missed some opportunities to say ‘No’, instead of my predictable, ‘Yes’. It’s obvious that there were a few times when a door opened and I wandered or scurried through it, without pausing to think. Repeat that behavior often enough and even a ‘slow learner’ like myself, will catch onto the pitfalls and wise up.
However, there has also been a steady trickle of positive outcomes from the EAW business venture. It is really gratifying to have strangers say nice things about my work, and sometimes buy it. While selling at various venues, I’ve met fellow vendors who were kind, open and generously shared their ‘experience, strength and hope’. My family and a few friends have been remarkably supportive and encouraging. I’ve confirmed that I have good business sense and have figured out how to do a lot of things on the Internet. No small accomplishment at my age. Most of all, I’ve allowed my creative self to play; trying out various ideas, ‘just because’ I had them. Now that is liberating!
Which takes me back to the writing. In August of 2012, I took a break from the original blogging on the two sites, choosing to commit more time to the business of sales. I reasoned that autumn was the season when people bought gifts, so if I was going to ‘give it a go’, that was the time to make it a priority. Mixed results. Father still alive and needy, plus, to tell the truth, my enthusiasm and drive to ‘succeed in business’ were limited. But I tried and had modest sales. Exhausted in January, missing the energizing pleasure of doing the Food Life Story interviews and even minimal writing, I knew that I needed a break from sewing and selling kitchen towels.
When I heard about an online course in Food Writing that was about to start, it seemed the logical thing to do, to focus and direct my writing self. I knew that what I was writing about food, my food life story, did not fit the normal categories considered Food Writing: restaurant reviews, recipe development, articles about chefs and food producers and trends. But it seemed close enough, so I climbed aboard. The class itself was ‘eh’. Having taught writing myself for 30+ years, I was dismayed by the style of the ‘teacher’. But there were a couple of women, from other parts of the country, whose writing and perspective intrigued me. We continued as a small group when the course ended, sharing our work electronically, with semi-regular telephonic ‘meetings’.
So my writing juices were kept at least minimally stimulated through the spring and summer of 2013, through my father’s final illness, death and the aftermath. The duties that result from a parent’s death began to resolve themselves in the fall of last year. I was sewing towels again, for the holiday sales season, but there was also a little time and space for writing and, not surprisingly, I felt stuck. It’s all of a piece, isn’t it? Always is. The experience of shame that my father had personified and perpetuated all my life, until the final months of his life, became a burden that I knew I finally had to address.
It was time.