This is the first freelance article I wrote about 5 years ago, back when the Yahoo! Contributor Network was Associated Content and before I started writing for eHow. This was also before I started blogging full time and only wrote a few posts a year randomly. Today is the last day that eHow will be publishing my articles, and will be taking them down soon. The have gone through many changes in recently and decided that they will no longer be paying writers residual income for articles. eHow was one of my biggest freelance payments that I got every month, and I am going to miss those payments. A lot. Now I need to find a way to make up for that lost income. Which I will figure out soon enough I suppose, but still, I am pretty bummed about lost income. eHow has offered decent money for my articles, but they are published on several other sites and on this blog, so I am keeping the rights to my articles and saying goodbye to what was at one time my favorite freelance “job”.
I wrote Conquering The Learning Curve to push myself out of my shy shell and actually publish something. It has always been one of my favorite pieces and it is something that I read every once in awhile when I need a boost, when I am creatively stuck, when I need to see into my past to move forward with my future.
Do you ever feel like “The Learning Curve” is most of the battle when it comes to learning something new? I love to write, but I have never thought much about becoming a Freelance Writer. For months now I have been writing articles in my head meaning to get them typed and saved on my computer. Every day I think to myself, I should just sit down and do it. Then I think what if I take the time to do it and submit it and it is rejected? I can’t figure out if I am more nervous about being rejected or wasting my time. As a Stay At Home Mom to three young boys I think, Gosh I just don’t have time to do this, but at the same time I think, I need to make some more money for them. So now here I am trying to earn a few extra bucks to help support my family. So I finally sit down to start typing. Wow, where did all of those articles that have been floating around in my head go? I suddenly have Writers Block…and I am not even a writer. I am a Jeweler; I have a Home Based business making jewelry so that I can stay home with my kids and still make money.
I love what I do, I have been making jewelry for almost 30 years. Sometimes though I get into a rut, I sit in front of my beads and can’t come up with something nice. Just like my articles I have all of these beautiful designs floating in my head waiting to come out. The thing is, is that while I can picture the designs in my head, I am not quite certain how to turn them into jewelry. And that is where I slow down, it’s the dreaded Learning Curve. To me the Learning Curve is the time that it takes to learn to do some thing well enough that I feel comfortable doing in with ease. Often instead of figuring something new out I will just go back to making something that I know will sell, something that will help to put food on the table instead of figuring out how to make something new. I have this super neat, somewhat expensive tool to help make very nice wire wrapped chain links that sat in my tool drawer for over 2 ½ years before I took the time to actually learn how to use it. Now I love it, it is one of my favorite tools, it helps to make great perfectly spaced, perfectly shaped wire wrapped chains. Now I look back and think to myself, how could I have gone so long without learning how to use this tool. I am about 99% self taught jeweler. I had a few friends who have completely different styles spend a few minutes showing me how they do their work. That is about it for my outside lessons in learning what I do. Now if I get an idea I just buy the supplies and do it. Of course the times when ideas stay inside my head screaming to get out are more than frustrating, but I have enough knowledge to own my own business and keep on going.
One of the more recent struggles I have had with the Learn Curve has been my obsession with Fused Glass. It involves melting glass in Kiln. I love the way it looks and feels. So my obsession prompted my parents to offer to buy it for me as a gift. It was very generous. My mother is a huge fan of my jewelry and is very eager to get some jewelry made of Fused Glass. She also knows that she will get any jewelry that she wants for years to come. Once again the Learning Curve has taken over my desire to fire up my Kiln…it has been almost a year. When I was in college I took some pottery classes, so I have a basic understanding of a Kiln and how it works. On the other hand I have never taken any classes on Fusing Glass. I have bought and read (5 times over) several how to books on Glass Fusing. I have also bought the glass…a lot of it actually, several molds, the glass separator that I need to pre-treat the molds and the gloves I need to use when I open the Kiln. I have glass cutters, pliers to break the glass and a glass cutting mat. I just do not have the courage to actually defeat the Learning Curve. I think, what if I do something wrong and the molds are ruined. What if I really screw up and the Kiln is ruined. Logically I know that I probably will not ruin anything, things might not turn out right the first time, but in the end everything will be just fine. I know that I can take a class & learn how to do all of this so that when I get home I can feel secure with my knowledge that everything will be just fine. With three young kids and a very tight budget I don’t see myself taking classes anytime soon.
So here I am trying to get a tight hold on the monstrous Learning Curve that has become a bit of a hindrance from time to time. If I write a few articles and get published will that help me conquer my fear of the Learning Curve. Is it my fear of failure that keeps me from doing things that I know deep down I am good at. I know that practice makes perfect. I know that you can’t succeed if you don’t try. I also know that there are a lot of things that I have tried and failed miserably but was able to keep on going. There is something about putting my creative self on the line that really stops me in my tracks. Like what if all of those tens of thousands of dollars I put into my degree in Art were for nothing and I am in fact not an Artist, but just some woman who likes to make jewelry. What if it is just an over indulged hobby and not a career. What if my need to add Freelance Writer to my Stay At Home Mom resume is just a way to prove that while I spend my days with my children playing Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean or Thomas the Tank Engine I still have something important to say that other adults might find interesting. Am I just a big kid wasting my day away with my kids or am a still an educated woman who happens to have three beautiful kids. Then I think of course the Learning Curve is not that bad, it does not have to be this obstacle to overcome when learning something new. It is just a small part of the winding path of life to traverse to get from not knowing how to do something to actually knowing how to do it. Along the way down my path I plant the seeds that become the forest of my life. With all of the things I have learned in my 36 years, the forest along my path is pretty amazing. I am still terrified to fire up my Kiln, now that I have written my first ever article in hopes of being published I see that the Learning Curve isn’t so bad, but just a curve in the road.