Work Interruptions, Social Life, and Family

Working at home seems to make people think that you are available 24 hours a days, 7 days a week. But the truth of the matter is that, while you are flexible, it is still better to be left alone to work!

Recently I had someone looking over my shoulder while I’m working and trying to find some files on my computer. And commenting on what was showing up there. Perhaps I don’t want people to see works until they reach a point where they are more presentable and recognizable in the manner that I want them to be. Or perhaps I simply want to work and not be interrupted. Or both.

Yes, my kids will sometimes come running in and ask questions while I’m working. This is expected, and they usually are very quick about it and then get on with their business. The worst is when my daughter is home on Thursday mornings. I know that I can’t work at all then! She gets bored, and so we use this time for one-on-one entertainment, when we can draw together, play games – lately we’ve been playing a lot of cards and other games, watch a movie, or read together (well, mostly me to her). And that’s fine! I work an odd schedule to accommodate my kids.

"Colourful Day" by Ariana Haidner © 2011, tempura on canvas, original artwork, painting, art

"Colourful Day" by Ariana Haidner © 2011

Every week I work all day Sunday. I take Sunday evenings to socialize with some friends and play games. And every other Saturday evening I do the same thing. That’s pretty much my whole social life. Then I work Monday and Tuesday pretty much from the time I get up until the time I go to sleep. These are the days that I don’t have my kids with me. And Wednesday I work until I pick my kids up at school. Then I will try to fit in work wherever I can in between them. This usually means that I can get a few hours done each day, especially Fridays, which I can often work 8 hours or more (partially because the whole morning they are at school).

Going away for the weekend means I have to take time off of work. And I don’t get paid for that. I don’t get paid vacations. I don’t get sick time. I don’t get bereavement leave. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. It’s as simple as that. This, of course, makes a relationship difficult. Who is going to understand this? Maybe a woman who is self employed and does the same thing… Or maybe no-one. At least no-one I know. It gets frustrating being with people who don’t understand – even if they profess to – and show that lack of understanding through their behaviour. If a person gets angry because you change your work schedule to add a class instead of studio time on a work day, then there’s something wrong. That really isn’t understanding. And maybe that person isn’t going to get whatever it is she wants by dating someone who is self employed. At least not if that self employment means working an unusual schedule.

And, yes, I have stopped dating women in the past because of this conflict. There is not enough time for me to spend with them, it seems. Oh, well. It’s part of life, and I know that I would rather have the lifestyle I have than any worries about pleasing any friend, family member (outside my kids), or lover. It’s not worth the stress. And I do enjoy spending a lot of time with my kids, even if it is split over sporadic moments during the half-week that I get them (the other half they stay with their mom).

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Finding Inspiration

I sometimes get the question of where I get my ideas from. I honestly have a hard time explaining this to people, because I get my ideas from everything around me! The things my kids say and do, dreams I have, the way the sun shines on an object, something I read – in the news or a book, something I overhear, and even thoughts that just seem to come to me. I honestly have more ideas than I will ever be able to produce in a lifetime (I know I should sometimes work harder to get more of these done, but there are just so many other interesting things to do in life)!

I have even gotten inspired by a piece of jewellery I’ve been working on. Sometimes I get ideas from things that I am currently making and think “what if…” and view how I could use the concept in a drawing or a new piece of jewellery. It’s the same with my drawings.

Johanus Haidner - silly inspirationI recall back in university, when I was studying drawing, and one of the people I was speaking with in a drawing class asked my how I could have ideas to draw things all the time. My response was, “How couldn’t I? Look around us! Everything has something interesting in it. Just drawing the land or a tree can be interesting.” Pull out a little imagination and think about it if an ogre walked out from behind the library building. What would that do? Or if we saw an odd shadow fly overhead. What could it be? A low flying plane? Or if there was no noise, then could it be a giant bird? How about some new aircraft that we’d never heard of before? Or imagine if the guy you talked to every day in the coffee line was really not from this planet. What odd thing might he do to give himself away? Why would he be here? And what kind of story could you tell about him?

Armour Tie by Johanus Haidner © 2011, metal tie, metal couture, medieval tie, knight, warrior

Armour Tie by Johanus Haidner © 2011

Inspiration comes from all around us. Our friends. Our family. The strangers we see on the street. God’s amazing world that just shows itself to us in it’s beauty, glory, it’s full ugliness, and everything in between. Creativity is just a matter of trying to pull what is before us into something that others want to enjoy and share.


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Getting Serious… About Writing and Art

All my life all I’ve really wanted to do is be a writer and artist. Not always in that order. It’s always been a tough thing for me to accept about myself, since I’ve had resistance about it from those who I would have expected to give me the most support. After decades of trying to be something that I’m not, I finally made the plunge about a year ago and started really doing it. But I never knew how to be truly serious about it.

I lacked direction.

Tents (16x12 - acrylic on canvas by Johanus Haidner-2011)

Tents (16x12 - acrylic on canvas by Johanus Haidner-2011)

And focus.

Getting serious about one’s creative work is something that any aspiring artist or writer needs to do as soon as the realization that this desire isn’t going away. Yes, we all hear about how tough it can be to be an artistic type. And it can! The why of this is more to do with how a lot of people are taught to work, though.

In school we aren’t really pushed. Let’s face it, grade school really is a playground to keep kids at and hope that they learn something along the way. No disparaging meant to teachers. But they’ve got a tough job, and the system really doesn’t encourage any real learning. Just enough to get by. Teaching in our modern system is done to the middle, and teachers are too damned busy to help those out who are exceptional – especially the gifted. Those who are lower than the average are catered to because they make the most noise and get the most headlines. At least with the administrative types. And that’s where decisions are truly made. That’s despite the efforts of many teachers. Or what they may want to believe. And so, the easy cruise of grade school doesn’t really encourage those who are smarter or truly more creative than the majority. It does not help the true outliers.

They must be pushed by an inner drive and a desire that is beyond anything the system has to offer. And that often means beyond their parents, partners, elders, and even their friends.

Our inner creativity must be our driving force!

But it’s not enough to use that only as a means to make a living. While creativity feeds the soul, it often doesn’t feed the stomach. Or those of one’s offspring. Thus we creative types actually have to learn about getting serious about our business, as well. This means learning to market. It means learning about administration. And it means learning about how to get help from others. And the last is often the hardest part!

We can procrastinate the whole week (or year) away while trying to avoid these things. Or simply muddling around with them, not really knowing what we’re doing. And that’s probably worse, since a lot of the former type of procrastinating at least there can be creative work done, thus adding to one’s portfolio. And so getting serious about it all is tough. For me I know this to be true!

I’ve spent most of my life simply dabbling in the creative works without any real direction. I’ve rebelled against those who tell me what to do, while actually doing things more for other people than for myself. And that’s a contradiction that’s hard to realize. Yes, I’m an accountant – and a damned good one, actually. But it’s not a passion. I would have lost my mind if I hadn’t quit doing it full-time. And for now I still do a bit to make ends meet. But it’s not my passion. Getting serious about art art writing is.

This means having a proper business plan in place. And, more importantly, it means following this plan. It means doing the production and marketing. It means getting all of the legal mambo-jumbo in place. It means getting the administration done (Yes, I’m 4 months behind on my books… crap!). And it means learning about what is truly important in your ambitions and creative goals. I’ll never get everything done that I want to. And so there are projects that I have to put aside for another day. And I know that other day may never come. And it means focusing on one thing at a time, rather than trying to get 25 pieces of artwork and writing done all at once. It’ll take 3 years to get one thing done in that manner. By then I’d starve to death.

Getting serious means prioritizing, even when I don’t want to. And it means working a lot of hours. And trying to make those hours more productive than I ever dreamed working for someone else.

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