"What difference does it make?" That was the answer I finally came up with. "Is it good enough?" is so subjective that my habitual asking of the question was, ultimately, just an excuse not to begin. I realized that it was an unanswerable question and a waste of time to keep ruminating over it. I liked what I was doing. Someone else clearly liked my work because people were buying it. People wanted to sell it in their stores. But most importantly - I like what I do. If I like it, someone else does too. That is the answer.
So once an artist gives up the agony and ecstacy, there's reality to contend with. I had hit this wall before. I spent the first act of my life in the performing arts. Auditioning was a daily form of self-esteem abuse for me and I lived on a see-saw of good enough/not good enough. The first cut "thank you" could send me home in an end-of-the-world funk, while a call back for round two could invoke a starlett sense of grandiosity. In between was the daily brain chatter about whether or not I was good enough for this profession and whether or not I should toss in the towel and do something drastic- like work in an office. I rode this see-saw for two decades.
When I was a child, there was never any doubt about what I wanted to do when I grew up. When I wasn't going to school, I was taking violin lessions, dance lessons and acting classes. I had to practice, learn lines and often rehearse for performances. I was passionate and dedicated and sacrificed much of what was typical of growing up for my art.. Yet, there was a prevailing mentality in my house that I should have "something to fall back on". Learn to type, was my father's mantra, and I was sent to business school the summer before 7th grade to provide me with the skills to support myself when dancing and acting didn't work out. It engrained in me that my failure as a performing artist, as dedicated as I was, was probably predetermined. Though I was spurred on by defiance what I didn't realize was that "typing" created an ominous back door that permitted me to ask questions of my value that I might not otherwise have pondered had I felt there was no other option but to succeed. The portal was opened to have self-doubt be a way to quit.
I had enough success at it all to know that I was not a quitter and in fact did some very interesting and satistying work. I had not however even begun to live up to my talent and in hindsight wish I could have several do overs. I wished I had locked that door to another world and tossed the key into the Hudson River.
I moved on to marriage and motherhood and immersed myself in my new world in a near monastic way. There was no back door and there was no quitting to do something else. These deeply serious committments became my training ground, for learning to make it work, no matter the obstacles. I couldn't get rid of the baby because he was too hard to deal with and though I guess I could have ditched the husband, he was too inextricably tied to my idea of family. My husband and my son presented me with a reality that forced me to dig deeper than I thought humanly possible and find out that I could do just about anything I set my mind to. It also opened my eyes to the deep gratification in how we become transformed by that which does not kill us.
And so, the website. Would I or wouldn't I? I had no computer skills save the ability to write a letter and have an email account (which I checked about once a month). There was no money to open a store and there certainly was no money to hire a web designer. Hell, I didn't even have the hardware to maintain a website! I had a dinosaur desk top that my husband had brought home from the office and a cell phone that was so old I couldn't even text. I found myself in what seemed to be an impossible positon and I was trapped in a technological vacuum. Did I have the guts to join the 21st century, at my age, in order to do business in a whole new world of cyber commerce? Face to face, once again, with talent and desire that was threatening to fizzle away into a shadow of the past, this was looking like one more thing I didn't give my all to.
No fucking way.
Step one. Buy a computer. Really? I have no money. Sell something. Borrow from the tax account. Do something drastic. No kidding? What if.....? No what ifs! Make a decision and do it! But I have no comput... Just do it!
I took a thousand dollars from the tax account and after some internet research (which in and of itself was a challenge to my computer skills) I went to Best Buy and bought myself a laptop with enhanced media capabilities (I knew there would be a lot of photography involved with my project). I forced myself to, one painful step at a time, set the thing up and get it ready to roll. I knew I would begin my journey with an etsy storefront because I thought it would be easier (true) than a stand alone site and there was a customer base to access (also true but not without self promotion).
Step one: Go to etsy and search my company name to see if it is taken. I had been operating for several years as Special Affects and I entered it into the search and....taken. Shit! Now what? After some mental frenzy I remembered that awhile back I had toyed with the idea of starting a clothing company with my sister-in-law, Beth, and I had played around with some names that would incorporate both of our first initials. Nells Belles was on of those names and I had always liked it. I entered it into the search....available! etsy requires no spaces in the names and so NellsBelles was born and I really, really liked it. I was happy, happy, happy.
Step two: claim your storefront and behold, the etsy template. Easy, I thought. Like filling in the blanks. (yeah, right. nothing in computer land is ever that easy). Oh and it wasn't! "Insert pre-existing art work or go to our handbook for tips on how to created your own banner (etsy for signage)". I had no artwork but I boldly went to the handbook and quickly glossed over as I read the "simple steps" to creating your own banner on your computer. My sadness turned to tears and shortly rage moved in. Goddammit, I was not going to be defeated! I had perilously spent money on a computer that put my family at some risk and I could not let my ignorance stop me now. But there were people on etsy that did these things for you, for a nominal amout of money, so I picked one and sent her an email and described what I was looking for. She cheerfully wrote me back and asked if I had any inspiration pictures she could work from. You mean mail you some pictures? No, silly, send them as an attachment. An attachment? You mean take pictures with my little point and shoot and then send them to you through the internets tubes? Ah, yeah. Okay. Ah, I can do that. I'll get those right off to you.
I didn't know how.