A Creative Manifesto (Not Food!)

As some of you might already know, lately I’ve been trying my hand at web design and development. I’ve managed to pull together some cool things: this personal website, for example:

My Website

And some little practice things, like this text design:

Manifesto

But as I divide my time between the pizza shack, coding and design, recipe-testing, photography, writing, dreaming of my neglected guitar, researching the craft of leatherworking (wut), and fantasizing about opening an Italian restaurant and/or a combination bookshop and cafe, it’s easy to start to feel like a jack of all trades, master of none.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been beating myself up about my inability to focus on just one creative endeavor, to pour all of my energy into perfecting JUST ONE. I tend to dial in on something for a while, and then back up and refocus on something else for a stretch. Granted, common threads continue. For example, since I started cooking almost five years ago, I’ve never slowed down. And I’ve never NOT read like my life depended on it.

Still, it’s becoming commonplace for me to prepare to share one of my new ideas with a friend or family member and brace for myself for their arched eyebrows and sighs, their Can’t-you-just-focuses and I-thought-you-were-going-to-do-”blanks.” Or worse, their silent judgment.

silentcat

I’m not criticizing my friends. I think it really does sound absurd when I constantly wish for more time and keep piling on new passions and activities, keep completing goals only to move onto other projects. It doesn’t have to do so much with having a short attention span (as much as it might look like that from outside) as it is about the way a LOT of things are inspiring and interesting and fun to me.

I’m coming to a new place, though. A place where instead of feeling guilty about all these activities I’m juggling, I’m going to embrace them. It’s really all been happening at once and just in time–I’ve encountered several different women who seem to have similarly overloaded ambitions. They have a few too many skillsets or work interests or job histories to make sense on a single portfolio website. They have a few too many projects and passions to fit into one single nine-to-five.

In my recent post about Momofuku Milk Bar confetti cookies, I talked about how awesome the pastry chef behind the operation is. David Chang, the head chef and CEO of Momofuku, describes Tosi in this way:

But I realized Tosi was not like most people and that we had a lot in common; she burns the candle at both ends and takes a flamethrower to the middle…I hired Tosi to help us organize our ‘office’–a desk in a hallway. Instead, she started organizing the company. At the same time, she was working as a cashier at Ssäm Bar during the burrito phase, training for marathons at night, and somehow finding time to bake at home.

Tosi says of herself:

I tried dabbling in everything with any minute of free time. The city was all mine. I interned at Saveur magazine, because I thought I might want to be a food writer. I styled food and catered and consulted. I worked as a food runner at per se. But with each side job, I missed being in the kitchen.

It felt so validating to see that someone with crazy energy and an alarming amount of interests got so far and became so successful, and it was even more validating to see that her boss saw that as an asset. (Some people value this multifaceted passion thing!)

Then, I watched a master class with the program I’m using to buff up on coding, Skillcrush. The master class featured Kristina Zmaic, a web designer and web developer who has also tried her hand at designing handbags and textiles, building and designing furniture, and makeup artistry. How’s that for a Renaissance woman?

I CAN HAVE IT ALL
Zmaic’s inspirational meme.

So, here are my confessions: I am a cook, I am a writer, I am a photographer, I am a budding web designer and restaurateur, a one-time and also future musician, a fantasy pasta-maker and book-peddler, and a dabbler in other various and sundry things.

I acknowledge that my passions are multiple and growing, and I’m okay with that. In fact, I’m proud of it, and I think that one day, I will look around and realize that I have slid into place, interlocked somehow. I will make something sustainable out of this wild ride, and then the next day, I’ll add something else to the mix.

Who else out there finds that they don’t fit (and maybe don’t want to fit) into a standard work week?

4 comments

  1. At times, I feel divided amongst my graduate student self (my supposed real life where I research and read things) and my feminist, pop culture loving, writer self (poetry and all-encompassing fandom included) . Sometimes these identities feed off of each other — maybe they should, so I can be in a place where my passions inform my practice. Who knows, but I’m in a place where maybe I don’t have to know — I’m getting there anyway.

    1. I know what you mean! Sometimes I miss my old graduate school self because it was like a different point of view to throw my crazy ideas at.

  2. I read this cheering and tearing up both at once. You echo the very sentiments of my own soul and in doing so, validate and affirm my experience. Thank you!

    Oh, and here is to thriving on–multipassion-ly :)

    1. Jenuine! Your words make me so happy!!! Validation, for the win.

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