One month and eight days until the show opens. Actually 793 hours until the show opens, which gives me roughly 648 hours to get everything finished (I have to have things in about ten days ahead of the show opening). Taking into account that I sleep (sometimes) eat (too frequently) and am beleaguered full-time by a two-legged monster armed with paints, scissors and a wild imagination, I’m guessing I have anywhere from about 100 hours to 200 hours in which to get things done.
It really can’t be narrowed down any more than that because of Katherine. I have learned, you see, that when attempting to work and take care of a child both, you cannot count on being able to do either very well. You certainly can’t predict whether you’ll get three hours work done or nine. When you are a full-time parent and an artist, you make huge sheaves of hay while the sun shines because it might soon rain for a week.
Putting in the application for the show wasn’t actually all that difficult. Writing such things isn’t hard and I’ve amassed a number of files (various artist’s statements, C.V., bio, etc.) from which to cut and paste and I enjoy writing. Manipulating words so that they say what I want is easy for me, which perhaps explains why writing the show proposal was so beguiling. I got wrapped up in the words and the reality only hit recently. You see, when you have a child and are trying to get things done on a deadline, worry is luxury for which you really don’t have time. So I haven’t been worrying. I’ve been working and shoving aside that part of my brain that says, “You’ll never get it all done in time. What are you doing this for, anyway? No one will come and the few people who drift through will think the show absolute rubbish.” (Yes, the Little Doubter in my head has a British accent. Sounds amazingly like Paul Bettany, actually.)
Lately, though, as the realities of the show become closer, I’m losing my ability to relegate Little Doubter to the back of my mind. Most days, I’m so busy that I haven’t time to listen, but occasionally he creeps in during the night and keeps me awake. The worries are many. What if no one comes? What if I don’t have enough stuff or have the wrong combination of stuff done? What if the show looks awful? What if it goes so badly that no one wants to entertain me having another?
These thoughts are pointless, really. I can only control a limited number of things. I can control what I work on and get done. I can determine the quality and nature of the product. I have some control over who gets invited to the opening, but no real say in whether they actually show up or like what they see. Reminding myself of this is the tricky part. Luckily, I have enough left to do to keep both my hands and my head busy.
I’m completely shoving the monetary aspects aside. I refuse to think about whether things will sell or not. Ultimately, I’m sure I’ll sell everything. Sales depend on the right person and the right piece of artwork meeting at the right time (when the person has money and is willing to buy art). What doesn’t sell during the sale will be sold over the following year, I’m sure.
It’s funny, though, how your mind plays tricks with you. Having a show of your work is harder than walking outside naked. In a way like no other I’ve experienced, you put your inner self, your experience and in many ways, your life, on stage, risks that are quite apart from the commitment of time and money involved. I suspect that most artists are nervous about show openings. It’s probably inevitable. If they aren’t nervous, they’re either supremely confident or taking no creative risks.
So there’s probably no cure besides hard work and deafness; keep putting one foot in front of the other and blithely ignoring the nagging doubts.
A couple of quotes for inspiration:
Courage is not the absence of fear but the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all. For now you are traveling the road between who you think you are and who you can be. (Meg Cabot)
Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. (Dale Carnegie)
And yes, I am terrified.