Thursday, 4 June 2009

Sad Squirrel

I'm not a happy squirrel. If I'm honest I've been sad, on and off, for a few months now. The good news is that I'm not sad all the time. The not-so-good news is that one of the main things which pushes the sadness aside is overwhelmedness. Life keeps hitting me over the head, and then I get so busy defending myself from the blows that I forget all about happy or sad and just do hectic instead. Or maybe that's not a bad thing. Maybe it's better to be busy. I dunno. I just know that whenever things slow down again, I find myself on top of a giant pile of crap. And it needs sorting out, but it's really hard to organise a mound of chaos when you're sitting on it. And I'm a control freak, and I have a small baby, and I keep forgetting that people with small babies are supposed to take it easy and not keep trying to sort everything out.

Today I am having my first Spare Day for about three weeks, after various tedious fires (ill children, broken cars, weddings to attend, yadda yadda) needed fighting. It's not spare at all, of course. I'm sitting up high on this heap, and I'd like to be down on that floor with no mess in sight.

It overwhelms me. It depresses me. It tires me out.

The future looks both better and worse. On the one hand it contains a sort-of cure to one problem and a total cure to another one, but it also promises a whole new pile of crap.

The sort-of cure is for the problem of My Career. I feel like a failed nut designer. I know the Russians are launching one of my nuts next month... but they're in Russia, speaking Russian, and now that they have their very own Russian nut-polisher who has converted English to Russian, they're not very interested in me. I'm not even sure they'll give me news on how it's doing. It all feels very remote. I've been paid, and my part is over. My latest nut won't be ready before September, I have no deals in the offing and no advocate to find any new deals, and I'm about to embark on a brand-new career which will completely fill the next two years of my life... so there'll be no more nut-designing for a long time, and I'm waving goodbye to that part of my life for a significant chunk of time. But it's a sort-of cure because this new career is something I know I can do, and do well. So it will (hopefully) bring success back into my life... but via a different door.

The problem it totally cures is the one of What Happens in the Future. I was facing nothing but failure, bankruptcy and uncertainty. Now I have an income and Something Rewarding To Do to look forward to, so that's very good.

The whole new pile of crap will be caused by the new career, which will be time-consuming and exhausting and will leave me with even less spare time to sort out the daily detritus that life and babies create.

I'm assuming that I'll pick up in September. It's exciting and I am looking forward to it, and I'm hoping that being busy with something I like will create a much better daily mindset than being busy with domestic crap whilst watching my erstwhile career dribble away through my fingers and down a large smelly drain.

People who like my nuts don't like it when I get all defeatist about the nut-designing. They try and tell me that success may be just over the horizon, that the Russian nut may lead to bigger and better things. They tell me off when I talk of failure. They hate it when I suggest that I may be done with nuts for a lot longer than two years. Maybe forever. Maybe I'm just not cut out to be nut designer, I say. Rubbish, they say.

They're probably right. I probably can't stop even if I want to. But I look back at my nuts... and I think they're a bit crap. And I wonder if I have the time, the commitment, the energy... or the ability required to improve my craft and make better nuts. I'm depressed, so of course I think this way. But the practicalities mean that I have to put it aside for a while. Maybe when the kids are older it'll get easier. Maybe I can save up some money from my new career, then take some time off and design a beautiful new nut. Or maybe I won't even want to. Maybe I won't miss it, will be happier without it and all its tedious ups and downs.

But as for the Russian nut suddenly taking off... this is what all nut designers live on. As well as fruit designers, tree designers... everyone who creates something new and hopes that someone somewhere might notice it and go wow. They live on hope. They have to. But for most, the hope is misplaced. Most nuts die in relative obscurity, most designers are never noticed, were mediocre to start with and even if they weren't don't have enough luck or spark to get anywhere much. I know I'm not supposed to talk this way... but that doesn't mean it's not true.

I just know that I feel tired and grey, and currently want nothing to do with any of it. I'm gradually reducing my commitments, as well as contact with the nut designing community, which if I'm honest just depresses me even more (sorry), in preparation for September.

I have an appointment with a doctor next week. Maybe they can help.


Brian Clegg said...

Everyone thinks their nuts are crap - but the rest of the world often doesn't.

Personally, my nuts (this analogy is worrying me) never earn quite enough to keep us going, so I'm always scrabbling around to find the next nut... but I'd much rather still be doing this than not. And, yes, the golden nut might not turn up - but it might, and the hunt is part of what makes life worthwhile.

It's ideal if you can get a steady job that brings the money in AND that gives you enough spare time to seriously work on nuts. Many great nutters have done this in the past. Please do keep the hope alight!

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

If I do return to the nuts, I think this is the attitude that will work best for me - keeping it as a hobby, rather than trying to make a living out of it. So yes, hopefully the new career will allow me to do that eventually, but not at first. It's also very hard to disentangle general post-natal beleagueredness and depression from how I genuinely feel about the rest of my life. But certainly at the moment I can't cope with nut-designing being my main career or any kind of income-earner (mainly cos it's not earning me anything).