Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mental Blocks

I am going to post here about my struggles to explain a few things about my slew of posts. I am also posting this as a note to other people who may be experiencing similar issues.

I was encouraged well over a year ago to start a persona related blog. I started by putting up new things. I had this idea that everything had to be new and fresh or it wasn't worth posting it. I post all these things on my facebook why should I recant it in a blog post? Asking that out loud makes me realize how foolish that sounds. So I'm going to answer my question: not everyone is on social media sites. Other reasons include perceptions of social media being not academic; the fact that I am not friends with everyone on FB that could see my work; FB can quickly bury your awesome post amid a bunch of cat pictures and game requests; and quite frankly not that many people take the time to really read half of the stuff they see there because they are already over inundated with other media. Being this is a post about my own perceptions of things getting in my way I feel the need to point out that perception plays a large role in how you (and your work) are received.

In a recent conversation with a friend, she stepped outside of what she knows about me personally, and she said that she couldn't point to what it is that I "do" as an art (or focus) in the SCA. I've heard this in other ways before either to me or about others who weren't being "noticed." This time it sunk in. I have always known that my work is all over the place. I am a jack of all trades. I do leatherwork, brewing, cooking, research, sewing, Viking, Ottoman, casting, jewelry, embroidery, games....you get the idea. Since switching (or settling) to my Ottoman persona in 2006 almost everything I do is toward making a better body of knowledge and expertise in everything Ottoman. If I were to be known for something I want it to be that.

Example:  I learned naalbinding because I love Viking things (and used to research it almost exclusively) but also because I learned that it was very similar to Egyptian (mamluk) knitting that lead to modern "Turkish" picture knit socks. I love socks and was afraid of knitting because I thought my arthritis problems (which turned out to be more related to a caffeine allergy) would make two sticks challenging. Most naalbinding is done with a needle and your thumb. Learning the basic stitches would enable me to attempt a more persona appropriate stitch and also give me some base knowledge for further research so that I knew what I was looking at (or for) when doing museum research.

There is a lot of method in the madness of what I produce.

Another wall I've hit is that Ottoman (and a lot of middle eastern) was not overly researched/published until recently when it exploded. I admit to wanting to be a special snowflake and adding to a body of work that would help me stand out. Similarly I could improve on old ideas that had been presented and help combat "bad" middle eastern or over generalized attempts at ME garb. So now there are a lot of people posting and it seems like everytime I come up with something that seems new and shiny someone else had the same thought and posted near identical research a week before me. I'm not looking at my research as a competition but it seems redundant to me to post about something that someone in another kingdom has already done a ton of research on. Social media has made our Known World a lot smaller these days and so to "stand out" seems to be much harder.

Back to the perception blockade from the beginning of this rant: It doesn't matter if I made it 10 years ago or yesterday. The fact is that I may have a little piece of something that could help others. I might have done something wrong that could be fixed if only there was an audience in the know that has access to this information. Just because it isn't shiny and new to me or the people around me does not mean that it won't be revelatory to a whole new audience that would really love to see more of my work or those on a similar path just starting out. Maybe my way of explaining things is the way that person x needs to hear it for it to make sense, like when my friend re explained how people might not know what I am all about in terms of arts and sciences focus.The only way that I can prove there is a focus to my research is to put it in one place.

Last Thoughts:
I have really high standards for myself. I don't put things in competition unless they live up to a certain standard. I often don't display things because I didn't have time to do EPIC documentation and my perception is that at this "level" I need to. Sometimes I don't display things because I just learned about it in a class and my stuff isn't warranted presentation. I forget that part of being and artisan in the SCA is to educate and inspire. You never know who's going to see what you did and launch off of it. Maybe the expert at said art isn't showing of his stuff that day but because you are some young artist is going to (right place/time) have that long-missing-thing-in-their-life that gets them off the couch and doing art. So I am trying to battle my perception-dragons and push onward to the next battle.

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