Restoring normalcy

It was great to head out to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Plus Shows just after finishing the heavy lifting of getting most of my book completed — well, virtually completed — because the mental and physical break of being somewhere different allowed me to slip gently back into my “normal” life and routine.
The funny thing is, I feel like a stranger in it.
In Tucson, I made my regular contacts, found some new tools to write about, taught some classes, found some gorgeous new rock to cut into, and met up with friends and colleagues I haven’t seen since, well, last Tucson. But as I went from show to show, I experienced a strange sense of detachment to everything normal — mostly because the huge project that has consumed me for a year is gone now.
It was truly a strange feeling to not have to think about that content anymore, and now that it is gone, I realize just how much of my life it took up. The great thing is, even though I was sleeping in a hotel far from home, I clocked at least 9+ uninterrupted hours per night — something I haven’t done since I started writing the book last winter. I have a habit of waking in the night to deal with whatever is on my plate, and writing a book is like an endless buffet — there are just too many plates. Let me tell you, sleep is a good thing. Because, each day, I felt better, stronger and more “me”.
The experience of writing this book has taught me something valuable about long term projects and what they can do to your “normal” life. I am very proud of the work I did, and as I read some of the in-progress edits of my work, I don’t remember the experience of writing those words so long ago. What I do remember is the constant pull of the content, the desire for it to be good, as perfect as I could make it in the time I had to produce it, the intense focus required of a complex project and the hope that someone out there would value it once it became an actual thing you could hold in your hands.

Some sweet Hornitas Jasper at Tucson Electric Park.

Some sweet Hornitas Jasper at Tucson Electric Park.

In a way, this book writing experience was like parenthood — you pour lots of effort and hope into something and eventually you must let it go its own way in the world. At that moment, you stand there alone, unburdened, and wondering what you are supposed to do next. So, in Tucson, I bought some rock. I walked around alone and thinking and I made a very simple plan.
I spent this past weekend cutting some stones, and I made some sketches of what I want to make — now that I don’t have an agenda or the expectations of anyone but me for my work again. No agenda is good. Because I can remember this strange state of “normal” once again.

Today’s tip: Use your phone camera to take “notes” when you are at a gem show. I clicked off shots of the names and localities of much of the cutting rough I purchased in Tucson, so I didn’t have to write notes with wet and dirty fingers after grubbing around in slab bins.


About Helen Driggs

Metalsmith, Teaching Artist, Writer, Maker of things. Former Senior Editor of Lapidary Jewelry Artist Magazine View all posts by Helen Driggs

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