You know in that movie Wonder Boys, when Rip Torn’s character gets up to the podium and opens his sure-to-be-gaggingly-pretentious oratory with “I am a Writer” and is met with blustering applause? In my head, it’s my “I am a Maker” that gets the gushing response.
What do I make? Anything, really. I spend more time than I care to enumerate, culling the internet and less digital sources for makeable things. Sewn things and knitted things and printed things and glued things and cooked things and generally-crafted things and picked-up-off-the-ground-and-put-in-a-jar things. Bonus points for anything requiring a specialized gadget.
Oh sure. I’m also a mother to two of the sweetest, funniest, most frustratingly stubborn kids ever, who shall be known here as The Girlie Bear (she’s just a toddler, man) and The Boy (pre-schooler; hell on two feet). And wife to Mr. New Media Something-or-Other, who, like all good makers’ spouses, finds endless opportunity to point out that the things I make have perhaps less expensive and time-consuming counterparts to be found at places like Target and the back of our closet.
Professionally, I make things, too. I’m a some-time writer and graphic designer. A print designer, for newspapers and magazines, mostly. What’s a print designer, you ask? Doesn’t matter -- there’s no professional demand for one of those these days. There was this thing called the internet, but I paid no mind, leaving it to my husband to work with things like that. After the birth of my son, I left full-time employment to do the stay-at-home thing. When I was ready to go back to paying work, I landed what I knew to be The Last Design Job On The Planet That Did Not Require An Internet-Based Skill Set. When my daughter was born, I left that job, too. I'm at work again, now part-time, which leaves just a little bit of time for blog-type things. But I'm still at it.
I enjoyed designing things to be released to the world. I imagined lives and well-beings hinging on a well executed clipping path or expertly kerned font. OK, not really, but hell, I really enjoyed the work. But you know what might be even better? Making something for my family that ends up being so well-used and loved that it’s actually taken for granted. And now for my thesis: Making things makes me a better person, a better parent. Hyperbole, maybe. But I don’t mean that makers are better people than the rest.
Time for another movie reference: Remember in 40 First Dates how Drew Barrymore’s character only sings on the days she meets Adam Sandler’s? Well, on the days I can’t sit down to some creative tinkery, I’m downright cranky. I’m impatient with the children. I’m in no mood to make meals. I’m much more prone to fits of blind, throw-things-at-the-walls-until-they-shatter-into-itty-bitty-pieces-that-I-now-have-to-explain-to-the-husband rage. The lesson? I make things for the common good of all.
Lovelihood is where I get to share this process with you.