Friday, August 25, 2017

The Persistence of Time

"I don't need time. What I need is a deadline." -- Duke Ellington

I started participating in competitive crafting lo these many years ago.  It was great for my creativity because like the Duke, I don't need time.  I need someone to say "Get this done by then."  I will then move heaven and earth to get it done.

I loved it.  I could break down big honking projects into what could be done in four months, in three months, in six weeks.  What could be done in one month? How many blanket squares that could be joined up and bordered and handed over to Project Linus?  I wasn't making one big thing, I was working on many small things with a big thing in the background.  More often than not, I finished the big thing, and sometimes the small things all accreted into one big thing.

I got more points if I wrote little vignettes about the project and how it fit the prompt -- so the little stories eventually coalesced into one big story arc, which I placed here on the blog because it was fun.

"I love deadlines.  I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." -- Douglas Adams

But then things began to crumble under their own weight.  I felt like I had to post weekly here; that became One More Thing to do each week.  I finished square after square -- but never got to the assembly.  I bought yarn and stacked good intentions; stockpiled dreams.

The stash grew.  Patterns, projects, plans.  Thank heaven I never got into sweaters the way I got into socks; I would not be able to fit in the house.  The fiber studio grew and overflowed into the bedroom, the living room, the library.  Not just books, but projects in the making, waiting for strategic finishing.  Piles of dreams, stacks of good intentions.

"I don't believe in deadlines.  I don't believe in telling the enemy when we're going to withdraw." -- Ken Buck

That's what it became -- that I would start a project, work on it until the deadline; tell myself that I would finish it during the break months, and then, nada.  When I hit the deadlines and completed the thing, I felt that all was right with the world, but not GOOD.  Not floating on a whipped cream cloud with mounds of cherries jubilee, just all right.  Nice enough.

When I missed a deadline, and had something started and partway there -- ugh.  Another thing that needed finishing.  Someday.  Deep dark BAD feelings; a started item of good intentions, a begun dream that was dropped when the time to push it through came because of reasons that seemed reasonable at the time.  Ludicrous reasons in hindsight, especially seen through the lens of Beating Oneself Up.

"To be perfectly honest the old habits, specifically deadlines, still very much inform what I do." -- Simon Winchester

I tried using the framework of the game I was playing to get the old stuff cleared away.  There's a place for stuff begun that awards your team big points.  That round opens up only once a year, and participation is limited.  I got up at o'dark thirty on registration day, ran barefoot in the snow across a motel room parking lot, and tossed my hat in the ring.  Finally!!  Some of the old stuff would get DONE and I'd gain a bunch of points for my team on top of that.

Ah ha ha ha -- nope.  Made good progress, tis true, found a method that does not require me to decide and decide and decide again when making random cables (yay for that).  But finish, even this one thing (of three I proposed to complete)?  Oh, hell, no.  Just no.

I thought about stopping.  About dropping out of the game, not asking to be placed on a team any more.  But that made no sense, no more than giving all my lace and sock yarn away because I was so swamped with it and someone else should be using it.  ::*hisses*::  MINE!! MINE!!!

I started looking for a place to put my goals and plans for the next few years, which will involve a different way to eat the stash.  I acquired it with goals and dreams and purpose in mind; those have not gone away.  I just need to be more mindful of what is in my hand before I run off to the yarn store, before I say "Oooooh, SHINY" and add to the pile.

Gee, guess what?  There's this blog you haven't used in forever . . .