Foolishness, curiosity, and books.

Someone shared this video on Facebook today and, since it describes a large part of the sentiment behind Where Angels Fear to Tread (our curated corsetry project from 2016) I thought you might enjoy it.  

I’ve spoken about this topic many times before. I meet dozens and dozens of would-be corsetmakers who, even if they have no plans beyond developing a new hobby,  hold themselves back from ever trying. The fear of failure is too great. 

I think, thanks to things like FR, OCOC, and various Facebook groups, this is less of a problem these days. And whilst none of us are immune to “it” (that feeling of shyness and ridiculousness, that fear of other people’s judgement), I do firmly feel it benefits us to be foolish every once in a while. Life is largely ridiculous anyway! There’s a line, in The Last Unicorn, which expresses this with the utmost pathos and generosity…

“[…] and even Molly, who loved her, could not keep from seeing that a unicorn is an absurd animal when the shining has gone out of her.”  

There was once a ridiculous news story, years ago, about tiny heat-seeking missiles disguised as bees. It really tickled my mother who said, “imagine if that was how I died?! Sat on the loo when an explosive bee flies up me!” You laugh from both the horror and the humour of the idea. She said it would have to be written on the headstone and everything, so that every time my brother and I thought of her, or had to explain the story to someone, we would laugh instead of cry. 

Status, dignity, youth, ability, beauty, they all come and go on account of being something attributed to you by others (and thus, something you can’t control). Desperation to hold onto them is guaranteed to make them go faster! For those of us lucky enough to live in a safe place/time, life is wonderful and ridiculous and rarely more than we can manage (which isn’t to negate the seriousness of overwhelm at all, I’m only speaking in general terms).  

I’m not a photographer. But I’m glad I picked up a camera. At one point, I wasn’t a corsetmaker, illustrator, or author. I don’t recall anything truly “bad” ever happening from pursuing an interest or being open to ideas. I’ve had plenty of “failures”, designs in the bin, spells without money, attacks from other corsetmakers, and hours spent trying to craft perfect emails for fear of accidentally offending someone… But none of that matters, not really. Not compared to the sense of flourishing and discovery that comes with learning anything new. Not compared to the good work that you can look back on and feel proud of and that, if you’re very lucky, might ripple out and help others in some way. 

Do you know that line from Maya Angelou?  

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

It’s true of work and art too, I think. Details fade, for better or worse. And yet corsetmakers may focus on one skipped stitch or one missing bead, rather than the overall impression. Business people might worry about one mischosen word in an email, rather than the overall nature of the communication or relationship in question. We can fixate on the things we dislike far too much and it wouldn’t matter, except that it is often to the detriment of good work, good art, and a good life. And what did Epictetus say? 

“People are not disturbed by things, but by the views they take of them.” 

Anyway, there’s a thought for a Sunday morning. I have been exhausted recently. Slept until midday today, it was incredible. I fancy going to the cafe to study, but (and Christ, it happens every year) the place was swarming with colourful kids and loud parents from the annual cheerleading competition that takes place in the NIA. Might be the same again today. 

Yesterday I was reading Sara Wyche’s “The Anatomy of Riding”. It is very good and presents information in quite an unusual way. There is a real focus on explaining functionality in terms of what the rider or trainer needs to know. Joints are shown as mechanical diagrams rather than accurate depictions (eg: some are drawn like the hinges you would see on a door), to make type and range of motion clear. Eg: the base of the neck is super mobile whilst the limb joints don’t have much capacity for lateral movement, both facts which rather work against the rider. I’ve got a second book from Wyche too, on muscles in motion, which I’m looking forward to getting round to. Because this first one focuses on functionality, it sometimes omits details like muscle names. At one point she refers to criss-crossing “flyovers” along the spine, and I think she means the multifidus (which I was studying the other day) but it’s never explicitly said. 

My mum still doesn’t understand why I’m studying all this stuff when I’ve no intention of changing to a horse-based job (if I’m really lucky, I hope to be able to craft a life in which books are my primary income, then I can dip in and out of corsetmaking at my leisure). Well it’s just curiosity. My dad was into astronomy and physics (he studied the latter at university), but his job was as a self-employed, self-taught, carpenter. Plenty of people have hobbies that they pursue to high levels but I suppose because we live in such a linear culture that’s not the norm. Or, when it is, the hobby is the creative thing whilst the work is the “serious” thing! 

But I’m really enjoying that I can put both my work and my hobby to use. Combining the two (with projects like painting those anatomical boards for the stables) is huge fun. 

Oh, and in related news, the colouring book is doing quite nicely! For this first week (so, until Friday) the proceeds are ear-marked as fundraising for the stables I volunteer at, so if you’re thinking to buy a copy or two do it now! Just search my name (Jenni Louise Rose Hampshire) on your respective Amazon site. 

The most infuriating part of using CreateSpace to publish is that I can’t see sales in “real time”. I get to see them a few days after the fact. At the moment, we’ve got half our sales from Europe and half from UK. None from the USA! Come on stateside supporters, you’re letting the side down… 😉 

Anyway, we’ve made a start but I’d really like to push for more. So… 

If you know people who might be interested, if you have people you want to buy advance Christmas gifts for, if you want to support the ponies, or even if you just want to support my name so that the corsetmaking book has better visibility once it’s ready(!), then please do share the links far and wide. It would make a big difference and be much appreciated. 

Thank you in advance!  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s