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How to deal when you want to skip the whole learning-how-to part

While watching Breaking Bad last night, I practiced wire wrapping beads. They all looked like misshapen Dollar Store charms. I’m on a jewelry making bender. It’s off the hook. I have two tackle boxes full of vintage jewelry, several different pliers, and a stash of mixed metal sheets and wire.

I’ve spent a few months gathering vintage jewelry, assembling my supplies and reading books. I tried to make a couple of pieces, failing each time. Most of what I made didn’t even reach the level of sucky because I couldn’t get much together at all. I finally said uncle  and signed up for a jewelry making class so I can get some guidance.

I went from passing fancy to obsessive fact finding.

My obsession with jewelry making has now reached a turning point. I have now learned enough that I understand how most jewelry is constructed. I know what the tools are. I’ve waded through the online resources to find a couple I like. My Pinterest boards are full of inspiration for future projects.

It’s time to move out of the hopeful land of fact finding where anything’s possible and every outcome is glorious.

Tuesday and Wednesday before this week’s class I made lots of notes and sketches. I tried to keep my ideas simple enough to execute without much drama. Still, my mind spun with the sheer possibility.

I made two things in class yesterday. They’re both awful.

One is a copper sun with an oblong body and rays that come out of the right and left side, but not all the way around. It looks like a diseased and bloated spider. My teacher even looked a little bit scandalized at the way the rays turned out.

The other piece is a small copper charm with the big dipper carved into it. It’s not as embarrassing as the bloated sun spider but it’s still not very good.

The chasm. It is monstrous. This monster kicks asses. And not in a “Kickass rah rah rah” kind of way.

The chasm between what’s in my head and what I can make with my hands is wider than the Grand Canyon. Larger than the stack of business books I’ve culled while building my business. Longer than my list of ideas for creative projects.

The monster shows up lots of ways. See if any of these are familiar:

A great idea for an online class to teach and then only 2 people sign up for it.

Deciding to train for a 5K and realizing that running sucks.

Planning out a novel and writing the most cliched first chapter you’ve ever heard of. It puts Anne Lamott’s shitty first draft theory to shame. What you wrote is the shamefullest of shittiest first drafts.

Psyching yourself up for a networking shindig, putting on your fancy duds and favorite underwear. And then getting there and when everyone is already paired up, leaving you alone in a room full of people much more together than you, you get the hell out of there.

Here’s your cure: Expect to suck.There’s holiness in sucking. Go there and wade in it.

It’s part of the deal. Go through the shallows to get to the deep goodness.

I will wire wrap beads until I can do it so it looks good.

I will create and teach classes knowing that what I teach and who I do it for is exactly as it should be. And that in 1 year I will teach with more competence and authority than I do now.

I will run through that painful first mile because the deep breath and sudden rush of ability that comes at mile 2 is worth all of it.

I will write a shitty draft, scrap it and repeat until I make something worth sharing.


What about you? What are you willing to suck at?






25 Responses to How to deal when you want to skip the whole learning-how-to part

  1. rebecca @ altared spaces January 21, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    Yes. Yes. I was talking to my brother, who is a chart topping musician, this weekend. I was complaining about my class. (The fabulous one where people didn’t sign up.) He talks about art as CRAFT. He thinks ideas are way over-rated. He says the glory of art is in the trenches where we’re LEARNING and problem solving. That’s where the great muse of creativity lives. WORK.

    Have fun with your beads. I’ll be watching your business grow.

    Here’s my brother: http://www.walkwestmusic.com/

    • Sarah January 21, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

      Yes!!! I asked myself this morning, “what’s so great about the journey, anyway?” And I got a flash of the art studio with people in it. Where it takes courage to ask how to do something and make something craptastic on purpose in front of people. And where humans work elbow to elbow and get to know each other in between. All the stuff of life happens there. That’s part of the holiness of the journey. The finished product is a total byproduct.

  2. Pam January 21, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    Wow. I was thinking about resistance and this post pops into my Inbox. Neurons fired. Connections were made. Zap! My resistance is coming from my not-wanting-to-suck self. Thanks, as always 😉

    • Sarah January 21, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

      Oh, girl. Suck. Suck. Suck. People like other people who kinda suck, anyway. Perfection is intimidating and overrated, don’t you think?

  3. Lisa January 21, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    AWESOME blog post today and hit me just where I am living at the moment.
    Thanks for the reminder that it’s not only OK to suck but sometimes it’s required.

    • Sarah January 22, 2013 at 1:27 am #

      It is so required. You’re welcome. xo

  4. Jessica January 22, 2013 at 1:15 am #

    As much as I can :) There is beauty in failure and beauty in the beast. LOL
    I am thinking tortoise not hare!

    • Sarah January 22, 2013 at 1:28 am #

      That damn tortoise. lol :)

  5. Renee January 22, 2013 at 2:31 am #

    Thank you stating the obvious, its okay that you suck! I am at this stage in my life and having a hard time with both my craft and cooking. Thanks for showing that “There is beauty in the breakdown.”

    • Sarah January 23, 2013 at 4:36 am #

      So much beauty there! Perfect is kinda boring anyway.

  6. Jenn Burton/Have Him Your Way January 22, 2013 at 3:22 am #

    It’s time to move out of the hopeful land of fact finding where anything’s possible and every outcome is glorious.

    This statement alone was genius, but combined with the whole article blew me away and made me laugh out loud. Holiness in sucking. love it. love it love it.

    • Sarah January 23, 2013 at 4:36 am #

      Good! Good! Good!. xo

  7. Laura Wagner January 22, 2013 at 4:47 am #

    I wasn’t willing to suck at knee surgery recovery. Which made it suck even more. Until I stepped into the “maybe this is just what this shit is gonna be”-ness. And when I did that, it did still suck and I had all kinds of thoughts storm in that maybe the surgery didn’t help me; and “what if I’ve done as much as I can and this is it?” Once all of that fog cleared a bit, I just got down to the business of getting stronger — literally caring for myself by doing more strength training with my body and also the resilience muscles in my mind. I wasn’t willing to shut down and turn away from myself, so I just sucked for awhile. Until I didn’t. And I’m stronger, more flexible and confident. I’m sure I’ll have an opportunity to suck at something again soon — thanks for the post to remind me that suckage is here to serve.

    • Sarah January 23, 2013 at 4:37 am #

      Your knee surgery has been such a hefty teacher for you. I love it. Suckage is just part of the deal. We just make it mean so many crazy things.

  8. Megan Flatt January 22, 2013 at 6:07 am #

    Great post and just want I needed to hear! It is so easy to get caught up in the grass is greener. We see how well others are doing or the success others have or how well others jewelry turns out and we forget that they had to learn how to wrap those beads too!! Ok, ok, back to practicing my own proverbial bead wrapping!

    • Sarah January 23, 2013 at 4:37 am #

      Oh, yeah. And that greener grass never tells the whole story anyway. What something looks like on the outside is only part of the story.

  9. Mindy Crary | Creative Money January 22, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

    I guess the message here is that we will all suck longer at things we care about than we want to. This is a great reminder for me, considering I just opened registration for my first program (yikes). I cracked up at your jewelry descriptions, so craptastic that even your teacher was scandalized :o)

    • Sarah January 23, 2013 at 4:39 am #

      Your program is going to be awesome– even if it kinda sucks. I bet you’ll have fun and help your people anyway.

  10. anastasia valentine January 22, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

    I am totally willing and most probably will suck at:

    Kite Surfing or boarding, Knitting, designing clothing. But I will do it. I will do it all. Yes I am mildly (or not so) obsessed about them…not necessarily about getting it right or perfect but doing it, experiencing it.. Perfection will come…maybe…later…maybe…or the next bright shiny thing will… OH LOOK SQUIRREL!

    • Sarah January 23, 2013 at 4:40 am #

      Oh, that damn squirrel!!! It comes right when I’m feeling that uncomfortable itch that comes from pushing through my neurosis. A squirrel is so much easier. Yes, yes, yes. And I love how you talk about experiencing it. That’s the whole point, anyway. What experiences do we create and enjoy?

  11. Christie Halmick January 22, 2013 at 11:56 pm #

    Oh, how I can attest to the suckyness of that first mile. After working up to 2.5 miles before the flu bug got me, I’m just now getting back to running. I wanted to be at 3 miles by now. But I’m back at that first mile inching toward 2. I’ll get there!

    • Sarah January 23, 2013 at 4:40 am #

      Oh, that damn squirrel!!! It comes right when I’m feeling that uncomfortable itch that comes from pushing through my neurosis. A squirrel is so much easier. Yes, yes, yes. And I love how you talk about experiencing it. That’s the whole point, anyway. What experiences do we create and enjoy?

      • Sarah January 23, 2013 at 4:43 am #

        That’s weird.. That was supposed to be the comment above. Anywho……

        A few years ago I ran a half marathon. I ran a mile to warm up before the race. Just lickety split like that–let me run a mile right quick. 1 mile now is half or 1/3 of my workout! I love that memory though of what’s possible. And those 13 miles were so hard. But you know, if I ran a full marathon, 13 miles would be like a blink in the eye. There’s an allegory for our life and how important it is to get used to different levels and about how we perceive them is proportional to what we’re used to.

  12. Cathy January 23, 2013 at 1:52 am #

    I really suck at singing. I had a priest in church tell me not to stand close to the microphone anymore! It always bothered me…then I heard my son sing…loud and strong …and I saw everyone turn to look at him…and I decided we were pretty lovable in our efforts. It is okay to suck…I am still singing. I have the last laugh though, my granddaughter is a beautiful singer…she is 8, did a solo at church…and got to do it with the microphone in her hand! We rock…and suck! ~Cathy

    • Sarah January 23, 2013 at 4:45 am #

      Oh, girl. I was singing to my son today. His song–the one I made up for him when he was a few weeks old. And he screamed “No,” at me to stop. My mom’s favorite joke when I’m singing is this… “What’d you do with the money, Sarah?” “What money?” “The money we gave you for singing lessons.”


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