Evaluating Passion

It’s one of those things that strikes you while spending an hour working on an incredibly simple scarf or staring out the window at the grey winter sky. You wonder at the passion in your life: for your work, for your craft, for life and what you’re doing. Is it enough? Are you living or just existing? If the former, are you making the most of your living? If the latter, then what’s wrong with you that you’re not living?

Winter brings on a lot of reflection, especially when faced with my solitude and my own company for more than 24 hours. I’m a nocturnal creature but these days where the light lasts a scant nine hours (at least that I’m conscious) are draining. Without the foliage to think upon as I stare somewhat blankly out my balcony, instead I look at my own internal branches and shrubberies. Am I doing enough in my profession? Am I happy in my chosen career? Am I creative enough in my craft? Should I be reaching out to other crafts and projects? Am I missing something for lack of experimentation?

A million questions, all swirling through my head as I work row after row of knitting. It’s not a project that is probably the most valuable use of my limited knitting time, but it is just enough to keep my hands busy. And perhaps that is the problem–I don’t really have to think about my knitting and so my mind takes off.

I’m sure we all question our chosen career paths at times. Was it the right decision? Was it the best use of our talents and skills? Could we make a different decision five, ten, or twenty years before (although–making career decisions in 2nd grade might have been a bad idea), would we have made better one? In the past year I’ve really seen an expansion of my use of social networking technology to coordinate with other like minds and this is both encouraging and depressing. I’m caught somewhere beyond the veriest beginner and the expert. I’m capable of figuring out new tools, able to see their applications, and have moved through blogs, wikis, chat formats and Twitter.

I’ve written a couple of articles, gotten rejections for a few more, and wondered why it is I just can’t bring myself to hop up and down with glee at the idea of submitting dry research for peer reviewed journals that don’t seem to be read very often except in limited academic circles. Those authors writing for tenure, I beg your indulgence, I’ve not yet faced the prospect of tenure and considering the current trend of libraries and the open condescension I’ve encountered from a few hiring academic libraries, it seems it may be a while yet before someone is willing to take a risk on a current children’s librarian who might not want to be one her entire career. Baffling idea, no? Add to that the recent kerfuffle over at the Journal of Access Services (an entire issue written by an unnamed acerbic blogger) and one wonders the efficacy of article proposals.

I’ve not yet presented at conferences, mostly for financial reasons as well as trying to figure out what it is I’d present two years in the future. By then I expect to have new tools and tricks–and you’d ask me to speak on what I’m doing now in early 2009? Now is two years old by then and heaven help us in this fast paced online world if those coming for their spray of knowledge (single spray versus steady trickle or stream idea of learning) are only catching up to two years ago.

It’s not only professional, it’s personal too. Listening to podcasts, reading blogs and participating in social networks for knitters, I often wonder if I’m stunted in some way. I knit. End of story. I don’t spin, dye, weave, do much more than the basics of crochet, paint, blend perfumes, bake, art journal…any of those things. I can sew, and do on occasion but mostly the sewing machine the Incredibly-Patient-Mother got me for my birthday has been waiting for me these past few months. My last project was altering a hoodie-lined jacket for a friend of mine Christmas 2008. I need to hem a tablecloth for my kitchen table, repair a bag, hem some jeans and make some new flannel/satin pajama pants. All of these combined would take one afternoon, two at the most. Instead, garter stitch squares and one row scarves get turned out. To listen to the creative minds on the intertubes, I’m a major slacker. I should be balancing at least three crafts, two of which I sell on at least an etsy store level, as well as a full time job, three children, two pets, one husband and moving houses.

But here there’s just me, and my stash. Simple projects that Audio Girl teases I should be moving on from but it’s nice to have control over the little things. The one row scarf that doesn’t require checking a pattern every ten minutes would definitely be a nice little thing.

Do I then lack the correct passion? Should I be doing three times what I am now? Obviously I’m feeling a bit of stagnation or it wouldn’t bother me to the degree that I keep returning to this blog post. Looking ahead to the new year, facing two freelance contracts finishing and not really sure what comes next I’m wondering what 2009 will bring. Renewed enthusiasm? Continued stagnation? More vague confusion?

I will continue to reach out professionally–it’s what one does to advance in this field and it provides variety. If I can get my resume fluffed, I need to volunteer to wile away the hours reading books it’s likely I’d not have picked up otherwise and about which I may/may not care very much. One of the articles that was rejected needs to still be written. I don’t know whether or not it’ll get submitted but the LSW seems to be a nice venue for such things. And ALA Annual is coming up fast. Maybe this time I won’t feel like such an outsider. After all, I do have “librarian” in my job title this time.

As for the crafting? Well, I’ve resolved to knit for myself this year. So at least maybe I’ll get some warm woolly things out of it.