2017: the year of living creatively;

If I all but predicted that 2016 would be a quiet one for me on the professional/self-development front, I guess I don’t get to complain when I turned out to be right.

While I don’t think I was necessarily any more “mindful”, as I promised myself in that oh-so-ambitious first post of last year, if the one thing I wanted was to “figure out what I want to do with my one wild and precious life” then I guess you could say I met my goals? The trouble was that in order to get there, I had to travel through what I’ve taken to calling a “creative dark night of the soul”. 2017, I’ll take you as I mean to go on: with a hefty pinch of salt, and the ability to laugh at myself.

Cass Art #BeInspired 2017 creative campaign
Cass Art #BeInspired 2017 creative campaign

I’ve always labelled myself as a creative person. My main skill, the thing I make my living from, involves me taking words and using them to make something that wasn’t there before. Creation, then, in its most literal sense. And I’m good at it. If there’s a thing I want to convey, no matter how complex, then I can usually do it, and do it well. But I’ve never been much of an “ideas” person: my work is usually dependent on things that already exist, be it news or criticism. And that makes it as low-risk as it gets unless you’re counting, as I do not, the guy who tweeted my work account in response to a story about academics’ post-Brexit concerns to say we should send them home.

I know that it’s not realistic to expect to be fulfilled in every aspect of your life, but team these questions with a tendency towards depression and anxiety and it’s not a tasty recipe. I have a good job that challenges me and that pays well, and I’m not short on things to do. I reached the point where I had squeezed additional roles and responsibilities into nearly every minute of my free time. But there was no overall “plan”. Around me, my friends were making art and getting book deals while I was just… exhausted. I spent most of last year chasing deadline after deadline, producing nothing I was particularly proud of just so I could say that I had done it.

Something had to change.

Cass Art #BeInspired 2017 creative campaign
Cass Art #BeInspired 2017 creative campaign

The idea to start a podcast sprang from Trump, of all things. When I woke up on the morning of 9th November I felt that old despair creep in, the one that’s the product of four referenda/big elections in a two-year period in which I came out on the losing “side”. Maybe it’s that this one doesn’t directly affect me as such, as a non-American and as a cisgendered white woman with her own income; maybe it’s that my listening choices have, of late, skewed increasingly political (and the “personal is” sense in particular. I want to add my voice to those out there and to hold our leaders to account, both at home and abroad. I’ve talked it through with a few people, some of whom I want to help me, and they all seem really excited about it. And then, the day before Christmas, a gift-wrapped professional quality microphone tagged for my future endeavours from my bezzer, which I guess commits me now.

The podcast is one of a number of threads which coalesced in my head during my months of soul-searching. There’s an as-yet one-line idea for a YA novel in there, which I need to expand on. There’s a strong desire to do more to support the musical and creative projects I’m passionate about, particularly in my local community/ies of Glasgow, particularly the east end; and young feministy/intersectional activist types. That means a refocusing of the content of this blog, which over the past year – admittedly my most objectively successful in my close to two decades with record-breaking pageviews, Twitter verification and shortlisting for an award among the highlights – has turned into a response to what everybody else is doing. I see brands work with “less established” bloggers (i.e. literally everyone, soz) and the FOMO kicks in: why them and not me? So I squeeze myself onto lists and blag myself invites, even though I hate crowds of strangers and own so many things it makes me sick to think about. I’m not in high school anymore and I really don’t care if people don’t like me, so I’m going to start acting like it.

MOAR LYG:  one of a kind greetings cards with stampin' up! uk;

All of which is by way of saying that I’d like to start this year off by introducing an ongoing collaboration with Cass Art

Cass Art #BeInspired 2017 creative campaign
Cass Art #BeInspired 2017 creative campaign

Cass Art, the London-based chain with a gorgeous, bright art supply store on Glasgow’s Queen Street, have been generous supporters of this blog for a number of years now and it’s something that I’ve never completely understood. Sure, their mission statement is to “fill this town with artists” – supporting and nurturing the creative talent in every one of us – but I’m genuinely Not Great at this stuff. I’m no good with my hands, and although I spent a big chunk of my childhood drawing pictures of the horses I loved they looked more like four-legged lollipops.

However, I love the idea of crafting – hell, of anything that gets me off a computer for a while – so I’m embracing this challenge wholeheartedly. Cass Art have promised to send me art materials and challenges throughout the year as part of their #BeInspired campaign, the first of which arrived just before Christmas. I’d never heard of DAS Clay before, but theirs is a beloved air-drying modelling clay that is notable for being able to dry without cracking. As a complete beginner, though? I was more than a little nervous.

For my first challenge, Cass Art asked to see where I drew my inspiration from. It’s something I spent a big chunk of the Christmas period wrestling with – but the answer was obvious. Words. I draw my inspiration from words, and the things I read. I had an idea to create a frame from the clay, in which I could display a collage of things that I found inspirational – but figured I should start small, with an old birthday card that I’ve had in my kitchen for a year and a half as a colourful piece of daily inspiration. So I found a small IKEA frame which I decided to decorate with kitty shapes cut from the clay. I was sent a couple of blocks of coloured clay which, when mixed with the white base clay, created a marble-type effect. Why cats? I just really like cats, okay?

MOAR LYG:  criminal minds in print;

This is a really simple custom project that even an idiot could make – I know, because I am that idiot, and I’m really pleased with the results. After giving the clay 24 hours in which to air-dry, I’ll be able to glaze it with the DAS Vernidas professional varnish and keep it forever. And now that I know that I can work with DAS, I’m looking forward to coming up with my next project to use up the rest of my supplies.

Have you made any creative resolutions this year?

More Cass Art: Web | Facebook | Twitter

This post contains PR samples, but all views are my own and unbiased.

  • OH, of course. I forgot about ye Scots who have had to deal with the triple whammy of political fuckwittery (well, the 45-odd% of you who probably also voted Remain and would rather never vote again ever than vote for Trump). I’ve found it difficult enough dealing with just the two. No matter, there’s bound to be abortion referendum in Ireland soon and then I’ll have my three, I’d say.

    • I deeply, deeply hope that’s going to be the exception that proves the rule. We’re due one by now, surely?? x

      • Well, recent polls indicate that there is increasing support for repealing the 8th amendment and moving towards abortion access but I just cannot believe that Dear Old Catholic Ireland (or the Church) would let it through. I don’t think this will be our one. x

        • Sigh. It’s almost like, you’ve had equal marriage, haven’t you had enough? x

          • And didn’t ye get the divorce before that? What more do you need? x

  • I know 2016 sucked for you (me too – high five?) but I hope 2017 is the year of creativity for you and a year where you remember how utterly ace you are – because you really are and when you write as you I want to read it.

    • I love you for many things, but the fact that you always take the time to support me when lord knows you have had your own crosses to bear never ceases to amaze me xx

  • So happy you’re starting off 2017 with such a positive mindset – I’ve been feeling pretty lost and overwhelmed myself with what I want to do with my life etc. and creative outlets but it’s really motivating to read this. And when you do expand that one-line idea for a YA novel I’ll definitely be the first to read it. Thank you for all your kind comments on my blog in the past year, they have always put a smile on my face! And good luck for a creative 2017, looking forward to see what you get up to.

    Mairi xx

    • Thanks Mairi, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post! I can’t wait to see what 2017 holds for you after your 2016 adventures. I know we’ve met irl like twice but I feel so vicariously proud of you!

      You’ll be delighted to know that the novel is now TWO lines long, as of lunchtime today 😉 x

  • rachelle renée

    I believe that you’ll live creatively in ways you didn’t expect. There’s no doubt you’ll achieve this.

    I was just thinking of the podcast the other day when I was contemplating some self care tasks… lol! I really look forward to it!

    • Our chat is going to be AMAZING… it’s always the episode I come back to when I tell people about the plan! x

  • Fuchsia

    Ooh I’ll look forward to the podcast – that sounds like a brilliant idea and I’m looking forward to seeing more of your CassArt creative projects too. I’m terrible for doing creative things like papercutting, or calligraphy, or drawing, a couple of times and then giving up so this year I hope to actually get good enough at something creative to carry on with it *sigh*
    Jo (of the London variety)
    xx

    • I’ve lost count of the projects I’ve tried and given up on. Knitting, a couple of times, for one – I always end up going all out and buying loads of materials to start with, only to abandon them halfway through a relatively simple project. And I just found a set of really nice, unused watercolours in a drawer too… 😉 x

  • I love your cat. 2016 was a tough year all round but I do find getting creative helps. (I’m taking part in #BeInspired too)

    • I am SO GLAD you came by, looking forward to seeing what you get up to! x