Trying to be good

I’m taking a glass blowing class and, wow, am I bad at it.

While sitting at the torch making beads, I have been sneaking peaks at the glass blowing in the hot shop thinking “if I don’t take advantage of this opportunity to try, I am always going to regret it”. I finally mustered my nerve and signed up for a class.

It’s been five weeks and, no surprises, I am loving it.  A dance with the fire of creation itself.

But … it’s really hard.  And, intense. And, nerve-wracking.  And, frustrating.

The teachers are awesome and encouraging. It’s a hard skill to learn. They keep telling us how it takes years to get good.  Being me, I want to be good at it now. Like, right now.

I was reminded by my sister of this great quote by Ira Glass (ha, ha) about the taste gap in creating art.

Nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish somebody had told this to me — is that all of us who do creative work … we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there’s a gap, that for the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good, OK? It’s not that great. It’s really not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good. But your taste — the thing that got you into the game — your taste is still killer, and your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you, you know what I mean?

A lot of people never get past that phase. A lot of people at that point, they quit. And the thing I would just like say to you with all my heart is that most everybody I know who does interesting creative work, they went through a phase of years where they had really good taste and they could tell what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be — they knew it fell short, it didn’t have the special thing that we wanted it to have.

And the thing I would say to you is everybody goes through that. And for you to go through it, if you’re going through it right now, if you’re just getting out of that phase — you gotta know it’s totally normal.

And the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work — do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week, or every month, you know you’re going to finish one story. Because it’s only by actually going through a volume of work that you are actually going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions. It takes a while, it’s gonna take you a while — it’s normal to take a while. And you just have to fight your way through that, okay?

And so I am fighting my way through it. My pieces are wonky. And wobbly. And uneven. And not what I hope they will look like. Certainly not what the demo piece looks like!

But I still love them. In all their wonkyness and beautiful colours. They are trying to be good.

And that’s good enough.

Week One - Paperweight

Week One – Paperweight #1

Week Two - Paperweight #2

Week Two – Paperweight #2

Week Three - tumbler turned into a vase (aka glob let)

Week Three – tumbler turned into a vase (aka globlet)

Week Four - wobbly bowl

Week Four – wobbly bowl

Week Five - it's a plate! (kinda)

Week Five – it’s a plate! (kinda)

1 thought on “Trying to be good

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