This past spring, I met up with my grandpa for breakfast as he was passing through town. At 88, he’s still driving across the country in his RV, building campfires by sleepy rivers, playing trombone with his buddies, and delighting everyone he meets with his sharp intellect.
When conversation turned to Written Paper Goods, my grandpa asked the kind of straightforward questions that few do, and got frank responses in return. He summed things up by remarking, in a matter of fact tone, “Well, okay, so it hasn’t really sparked yet.” At a loss for words, I smiled and shrugged, and took a sip of my coffee as he started telling a story about his latest adventure.
In that moment, and for the rest of the day, I felt disoriented by my own calm. This is my lifelong hero we’re talking about here, and I’ve been known to fight back tears over innocuous comments from mere acquaintances. But there were no feelings of inadequacy, or irritation, or even sadness. I felt serene, untouchable — even a little inspired. Where had this uncharacteristic stoicism come from?
Back in September of last year, I attended Independents’ Day Festival for the first time. My husband Max and I followed the sound of live music through the streets of Franklinton, and entered the festival by walking under a canopy of fresh flowers strung from an overpass. A black box nearly as tall as me stood in the middle of the road before us. Drawn to it, I found a sign instructing me to write down a fear on a slip of paper and drop it through the slot; later, it would be burned in a bonfire.
The fear wrote itself, before I had time to think:
I will never be a real artist.
I slipped it into the shadowy box, took Max’s hand, and walked toward the music feeling five pounds lighter.
Looking at the numbers, my business is no great success. I have a lot of hard work ahead of me if I want to reach my ambitious goals. The truth is, my Harvard-educated retired economist grandpa has every reason to think that nothing much has happened yet, based on the questions he asked. They're important questions, to be sure, but they aren't the only ones.
Because here's another truth: more and more each day, I trust my creative spark. And the excitement and support I’ve received from all of you as I come up with new designs, embark on new projects like #empoweredWritten and the Scrap Paper podcast, and meet you at markets around Columbus — that’s the kindling.
When I got home from breakfast that day last spring, I grabbed my post-its the moment I walked in the door and jotted down a note to self: every bright blaze began as a small spark. I've looked at it there on my desk every day, knowing it would be something bigger and brighter soon.
This 8x10 gold foil art print will be in my Etsy shop soon, but you can be among the first to snag one at the Independents' Day Festival this Saturday and Sunday! Come find me in the craft tents over by the food and drink, say hi, peek at my other new designs, and high five me for being a vendor at my very favorite Columbus festival. It's going to be a gorgeous weekend for celebrating independent artists!
***Update: here's the link to my Small Spark print, now in the Etsy shop. And a huge thanks to everyone who stopped by my booth at Independents' Day — it was an amazing weekend for me and for my business!***