I am not very patient. If you would like an example of this, someone emailed me about a project today (albeit a month after I originally wrote to them), a kind, exploratory email asking to know more about an initial idea I had. I, however, had to send a response saying I would be in touch; but I’d actually already put in a funding bid for this project and would hear back in… well about in about as many weeks as it took for them to apply to my initial, ‘oh! I have a thought,’ message.
This tends to happen a lot. A few years ago someone told me that work we were doing could have happened in partnership, had I not run away and started it by myself. At my best, it’s a trait that keeps me passionate, innovative and pushing boundaries. At my worst it makes me intolerable.
But what I love about the way that my let’s-just-jump-in-at-the-deep-end brain works is that it keeps the momentum going, and when projects are an uphill struggle isn’t that’s what’s important? It keeps the passion alive and finds ways to navigate barriers in a way that sometimes I don’t even notice how badly wrong things could have been – sometimes these solutions aren’t the most logical, but usually they’re the most creative. Last week I considered buying 40 scatter cushions.
Our Creative Futures Conference (I’m not going to plug it to you, because it’s sold out), was dogged with early teething problems. The day after we thought we had a concrete plan, one of the planned speakers announced he was leaving his job; the day after we planned the workshop programme, one of the facilitator’s announced he was moving and wouldn’t be able to do it, the other organisation announced it was no longer running its engagement programme in ‘quite the same way’* (*read: funding cuts). We have sold twice as many tickets as I thought we would, and last week I was convinced that the venue we had hired wouldn’t have enough chairs.
Yet all of this, apart from the chair thing, my brain has taken in its stride. It’s still in that dizzying love at first sight stage, shouting ‘LET’S MAKE THIS HAPPEN!’ from the roof and talking incessantly and at length about the importance of transparency across all sectors for young people to make informed choices – even when there’s no one in the room.
Until I took a step back to reflect and evaluate the project so far, I wouldn’t have been able to name a single problem. It’s all going well, because I am still excited about it. Everyone involved is still excited about it. When there are issues, or potential issues, we can sit and talk until have fixed it and get excited about it again. It has been 8 months since the idea first came to fruition, but it honestly feels like it was last week.
What has changed though, is that this conference is starting to feel like an actual thing. A thing that’s going to happen. A thing that’s going to happen soon. We have actual people booked on, not just estimates, but human beings behind the numbers. We have chairs to sit them on. We need to think about how many napkins to buy. I think sometimes you need to take a step back and see what you’ve built, even if all there is at the moment are boxes of lanyards and spreadsheets. It’s so easy to get caught up in a project whirlwind, that it’s hard to see what other people are seeing. Fortunately (from what people are telling me), people are seeing a conference they’re excited to attend, where young people aren’t being spoken down to, and that has a fantastic menu. The next challenge is keeping this passion alive to build on this in a way that’s useful and just as exciting.
The Creative Futures Conference is happening on the 7th July at Worcester Arts Workshop, more information is available here.