For the last week or two, I've been working on my Halloween costume, a Regency-style dress so I can be Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. (Yes... book nerd...) I've never done such an involved sewing project before. I had to carefully read the instructions, troubleshoot problems, and worst of all, hand sew buttonholes. I even opted for period accuracy and hand stitched the visible seams. I usually wouldn't put in so much time for a Halloween costume, but my hope is that I can possibly use it in the future for reenactments and cosplay. (And now I can be Lizzie Bennet whenever I want.)
Making the dress started me thinking about the patience it must have taken to live in a time where people had to make their own clothes, grow their own food, and repair their own tools. Things we take for granted, even get irritated about if they take too long, were simply considered work to be done. People had to be productive in order to get to what was more important.
Except I realized that didn't have anything to do with me making the dress.
For me, doing something like sewing a dress simply because I can is a way to instantly feel accomplished. Since I'm good at doing crafty things, trying a different crafty thing feels like something new, but really it's just another exercise in things I know I can do. It doesn't take too much effort, but I still end up with a tangible manifestation of how skillful I am.
Because I love learning, it's easy to feel satisfied when trying something new. It is much harder to get past the beginning stages and dedicate myself to becoming an expert. Writing my novel is proving difficult. It's no longer new and interesting, but if I want to excel at it, I'm only going to improve if I keep working, rather than distracting myself with easier projects.
It's funny how doing something by hand can show you how short your attention span really is.