So there I was, sorting beads, and it was taking five times longer than it had taken me before the stroke. OK, I thought, giving myself a pep talk, I can learn to do this again in ways that work. I can figure something out. I can do this.
Then I sat down to make some earrings.
Again, I was under time pressure: every year at WisCon I host the Haiku Earring Party, where I give away somewhere between one and three hundred pairs of earrings to people that write haiku inspired by the earrings they choose and the title I give them. I had at least a hundred pairs to make if I wanted to be in any way well-prepared. So I sat down to work... and I froze.
Oh, I didn't freeze right away. I did the thing I usually do for haiku earring-making, which is to set out a bunch of pairs of various beads, usually arranged chromatically on the table, and got my headpins and scrap metal out. (I make haiku earrings mostly out of scrap metal, base metals, using surgical steel earwires, and I often make use of beads kind people have given me. What makes it better is that they're not always the beads I would choose, so I get to (have to!) stretch a little and make stuff that I like out of materials I am not necessarily immediately drawn to. It's a nifty little improve session every time.
Well, usually. This time, I set out beads and wires and got my tools, and picked up a pair of wires to start composing, and I froze.
Seriously, I could not for the life of me figure out how to compose a simple pair of earrings that looked good to me. My sense of proportion, of rhythm, of any of those things, had gone somewhere else and left no forwarding address. It took me twenty minutes to build a simple three-bead pair of earrings. I almost tipped my head down on the table and sobbed. But I didn't. Instead, I built another pair. And then another.
After a dozen pairs, I started noticing that this pair only took about four minutes. (That's still twice as long as haiku earrings take for me to do -- or took -- when I was in the zone.) So that was something. And then I noticed that I was choosing combinations I probably would not have done before. That was another thing, and actually kind of cool, since I liked what I was choosing. But that first pair? That was scary, scary, scary.
However, when I went to the workbench the next time and started to work on necklaces, things had gotten all sorts of easier. I wasn't paralyzed about choices any more. Everything was still overwhelmingly interesting, but I could go ahead and choose, and compose, and see where it took me. More, I started to integrate the new way of seeing what I had made into the assessments I do as I make something. And I think it changed my designs.
I'll try to show you what I mean by that tomorrow, but I wanted to at least post this much in order to move the story past Counting Flax Seeds and the whirlpool I was in at the end of that post, and in order to tell you all that despite choice paralysis that initially had me in its clutches bigtime, there's happier stuff to come.Art After the Stroke, Part One: Seeing EverythingArt After the Stroke, Part Two: Counting Flax SeedsArt After the Stroke, Part Three: Frozen in the Fields of PlentyArt After the Stroke, Part Four: And By My Eyes Be I Open
... and more to come.