Updated: Feb 14
You know sometimes a film has a quote that just resonates with you instantly? Well, one such quote for me actually comes from one of Disney's most manipulative villains: Mother Gothel from the film 'Tangled'. There is a moment in the film when she decides not to take action against the main character right then and there in favour of waiting for a better moment when she can gain even more advantage for herself. As she says to her two evil accomplices:
"All good things come to those who wait."
For some reason, this quote has always really got me. And I've always experienced a slight discomfort with that - a sort of mini ethical crisis of 'help - I'm resonating with a Disney villain'! (You can imagine my relief when I sat down to write this blog post and found out that this quote is actually a very old English proverb, and not just a villain's motto!)
I suspect the real reason behind my fascination with this quote is that honestly, I hate waiting. I loathe it. In fact, if waiting were a food, I think it would be mouldy haggis with maggots crawling out of it. Not appetising. Not for me. Nah uh.
As you can probably guess, patience is not my strongest character trait!
One of the challenges I have encountered in my creative journey so far is that waiting is actually an important part of the creative process. Oh yes, I write often and I paint every week and there is no shortage of action happening. But in a way that makes the waiting all the harder - I often feel as if I am making stuff constantly without any obvious reward or outcome to show for it. Big writing projects like novels take months and years to create. I can celebrate every time I finish a draft, but honestly, that still takes ages! And big illustration projects likewise take weeks or months. This is a long time to wait for that final reveal, when you can breathe and say 'yes, I made it!'
In other words, I have to wait a long time for a project to be finished. And that means that I need to say 'no' to certain projects, or 'not now, in a few months' to potential clients. Which hurts. Because I'd love to say yes, but honestly I already feel as if I am juggling too many oranges and apples and the occasional banana that got lobbed in there.
Or, take the fact that developing a business just takes time. Developing a consistent art style, a marketing strategy, a brand, profit... just takes time. I am not the artist I was several months ago... and hopefully a few months on I will be in another place again. But you can't wake up one day and just 'know' your style. It's an evolutionary process of experimenting and figuring it out.
And then I get worried that people (who these 'people' are remains a mystery) will think I'm failing at a business if I'm not earning decent money within three months of setting up. Ridiculous, right? But it is a niggly voice at the back of my head which cautions me against waiting, against allowing this journey to take time, to evolve, to go at the pace it needs. I feel as if I need to achieve business goals NOW in order to not be failing. This is not helped by constant emails and facebook adverts from 'successful' artists promising strategies that will help aspiring artists earn 10k months in just three weeks type thing, making me feel as if I am waaaayy behind and ought to be earning a salary from my art already.
Basically, I want to be 'there' already. Wherever 'there' is.
I know. Even just typing it, it sounds a bit ridiculous. I can practically hear you telling me 'but you're not failing, you're doing well, keep going!'
Do you know this feeling though? This impatience, this wanting to be 'there' already? Even if the journey encompasses something you love? Most workplace environments I have encountered seem to have an inbuilt tendency towards hustle culture, glorifying overwork as something to be admired and respected, rather than minimised. It can be so hard going against that flow, deciding just to take life slowly rather than rushing around and squeezing everything in. Especially if you have a history of perfectionism or workaholism.
The super ironic thing is, I know that I work at my best creatively when I am relaxed and going slow. When I allow myself time just to be and take all the pressure off. Perhaps some of us work well under pressure. You have a super power. Cherish it!
For me, however, slow is good. Just today I think I had a mini breakthrough realising part of what my artistic style is. And it did not happen while I was at my desk, painting away! No, it happened while I was in the bath. (Thanks Becky for the scented bath oils btw, they are gorgeous!)
So perhaps this blog post is a reminder to myself (and anyone else who needs to hear this) that slow is good. That you don't need to hustle to be on the journey you were born to take. That you can give yourself permission to carve out a lifestyle that gives you space to breathe. That you are allowed to work slowly, to create slowly, to develop slowly, to figure things out eventually.