About that first day…

Ok, so I have been  looking forward to going part time ALL SUMMER. I had hoped it would happen quicker and I could might enjoy some time by the pool with my kids or a margarita, you know, whichever was available at the time. But no…….nothing moves fast when you work for a state run institution. There must be job postings and resumes to be read and interviews and second interviews and even though the person IN THE NEXT CUBE got my old position which seemed like kind of a NO BRAINER to me, it still took almost 3 months for me to get to my first week as a part-timer. Which would be this week.

I now work just 3 days a week for the college. Mon-Wed to be exact and I LOVE IT. I took the strict 19 hours a week position.(You DO REALIZE it it s strict 19 hours and we CANNOT under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES allow you to work MORE THAN 19 hours, do you UNDERSTAND???**) Yes, yes I do. That is what I want!! I want two whole days in a row to devote to my art that can fantastically spill over into the weekend. Oh my. Four days in a row of writing, painting, drawing, creating? Hellooooo happiness!!!

So. Ahem. Cut to Scene: Yesterday, just got back from dropping the middle schooler off (hubbie is now taking the high schooler on his way to work) and I pour my little old happy self a cup of coffee. Time to be honest. I am not happy. I am FREAKING out. And have been for weeks now. I have been promising the hubbie, “I will make money! I will make up the income that I will lose. People will buy my art, my pet portraits, I will sell a book, NAY THREE BOOKS I bet! Don’t worry my love! I will be a SUCCESS!!!”

And so. My face breaks out. Terribly. I can’t sleep. I wake up all through the night for the past few weeks, pure panic running through me. What if I fail!  And now, here I am all jittery and hopped up on caffiene. Time to put up or shut up. Oh lordee. Where to start? Update my website? With what? New art? I don’t have new art. Work on some new designs for notecards? Do I sell them on etsy? On my own? Try to get them in stores? Push my coloring books? Begin calling all the groomers and pet stores to carry them? Wouldn’t it be great if I had notecards to offer too? Yes, I should work on notecards. Or send out an html email to let people know I will take orders for pet portraits for Christmas this year? Update my pet portrait page? Paint small paintings to sell? Work on the thumbnails so I can put my new book into a dummy to send to my agent? I want her to see this new book, but I need the imagery. How do I want to illustrate it? Full bleed with full, colorful scenes? Charming, whimsical vignettes a la Polly Dunbar? Um, um, uh….ARGHHHH!!! Hyper…venta….lating…. Must…Calm….Down……

I know. Do something fun. With no agenda. None at all. Art for art’s sake and all that. Yes, that will work! I will be CREATIVE. This is what us artists types do! Hooray! A plan! What time is it? 9:15am? Clearly too early for wine. Ok, um…. Clay! I know! My Dog and Mouse character from my other book. Yes! They need to be born today! Perfect! Ah, finally. A decision. (you should actually hear the dialogue in my head if you think this is troubling just to read.)

I get out the sculpy clay. I look at the sketch of my beloved Dog and Mouse and let my fingers begin turning the clay into three dimensional characters. I do not know how it happens, but my fingers do. And I let them. I look at the drawing, I barely look at the clay. Soon my little guys are in front of me. Oh my goodness. Such pure JOY. Such pure HAPPINESS. I could live on this feeling – even over food – not wine probably, I do need my wine, can’t be crazy, right? It fills me up so completely. Oh I can hardly wait to put them in the oven to harden and get them painted. Truly bring them to life, to live with me. Out of my head and right here in front of me! I love them. I close the oven door (ignoring how horrific that I just put my beloveds in the oven!) And go sit at my computer. Pure. Bliss. Then I look at the time. 11:02 a. m.

OH. MY. BLEEPING. GOD. Did I just spend two hours making a dog and mouse out of clay??? WTH?? I can see it now: The loving, supportive husband comes home, opens the door and “Hey baby! How was your first day? What did you do??” he says smiling. “Um, er, uh. I made Dog. And Mouse. And painted them.” I mumble.

A clay mouse and dog, however cute won’t pay the bills! Won’t make money! Oh dear lord, what was I thinking???? No one is going to pay me to paint things that make me happy! I have clearly lost my mind, made a huge mistake and somehow suckered my poor husband into my demented reality that this is all ok.

And then I threw up.

Yup. For reals. I lost it. I let me head take over telling me what an idiot I am. My poor little heart was protesting, but to no avail. My three dopey dogs were watching all crooked-headed from the hallway confused as I lost it in the hall bathroom toilet.

Then, I felt better. And a little silly – just a little, I still had some thinking to do.

So I thought. “Ok, self. No one is going to expect you to make money right away. This is a process. You are an artist. It is not going to happen overnight. And you have to start somewhere. And if creating two little cute figures out of clay is your first order of business? Well, you have accomplished a very admirable goal. There is now just a little more cuteness in the world. More whimsy. More, ‘Awwww lookit that!’ And that? May not be money in the bank right now, but the world needs more happy, and cute and whimsy. Check out the news if you need a reminder.”

And then I calmed down. And started researching imagery for my next children’s book for my agent. And I painted Dog and Mouse. And  OH MY LAWRD HOW CUTE THEY TURNED OUT! And I got a lovely email from a past client that ordered 7 sets of my notecards. 6 sets of my When Pigs Fly, and one set of the pet portrait on them that she ordered 3 years ago for over her baby’s crip. Said child is scribbling now and she wants to have her draw on them and mail them out to family. AWWWW!!! (see? more cute!) And I told her I would had some extra in for her daughter’s set at no extra charge and I would mail them out today. And I did. And she signed her last email like this:

Thanks SO SO MUCH!

With warmest regards,

One of Your Biggest Fans (Jen)

And she paid me. And holy CRAP, did I just make money off my art on my first day??? Hot damn! How you like them apples???

And in closing, I will have other days where I freak out I am sure. But I will recover and let my heart speak louder than my brain to remind me that I am meant to be doing this and putting my art out there and sharing it with the world. Simply because I cannot NOT do it. And here are some of my newest family members (on the mantle next to family photos – right where they belong)

Left to right: Jonathan James, Whatif Monster, Mouse, Dog, Hippo and Turtle

**I already got a call asking if I could work more hours this weekend. Uh. Huh. real strict 19 hour gig, right? heh.

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