Once again, it was my friend, Krystallia, who alerted me to the awesome creativity of Melissa Ng (pronounced “Eng”), creator of Lumecluster–“where dreamers find courage.”
When I saw Melissa’s amazing designs, I knew I had to share.
But when I read her post, 2018 Year in Review: On almost giving up, I decided to do more than share her tale. I’d like to share mine, too.
Melissa Ng is the creative genius behind the Dreamer theme and style. She created Lumecluster.com to be a place where Dreamers can find the courage to push the boundaries of their imagination and overcome their fears and insecurities.
As a New York-based self-taught artist who started 3D printing in 2014, she combined a background in media and public relations with her experience as a small-business owner to create art.
Within less than a year in the 3D printing arena, Melissa won the Adobe & Shapeways 3D Printing Design Competition with her very first 3D print, helped design the aesthetics on a gorgeous 3D printed prosthetic leg, and created masks for a JiHAE music video starring The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus among many other great distinctions.
Given all that success–and her stunning designs–I was shocked when the very first post I read on her blog was the one where she confesses she almost gave up last year. In her own words:
“in 2018, I felt more fragile than ever despite the empowering armor I was striving to create…because I was utterly burnt out.
Since 2014 (along with another company my sisters and I have been running since 2010), I have been working seven days a week without taking vacations. My “breaks” included meals and sleeping. I even deprived myself of fun activities because I thought I didn’t deserve them if I didn’t feel like I accomplished enough. And if I did take time off to do something else, it needed to be productive and useful in some way. I know…this is an unhealthy lifestyle that can really destroy creativity. So, why did I do it?
Because I felt guilty.
Guilty for creating “carefree” art when other people were doing “real work.”
Guilty for finding some joy in creating things that the people around me thought was “useless.”
Guilty for pursuing something I loved when other people “didn’t have that luxury.”
Yes, that’s what some of the people in my real life in New York were telling me. And yes, it hurts so much more than some nasty online comment because they are coming from people I personally knew.”
Melissa then goes on to explain how a support network helped her overcome these negative feelings (you should read her full post, if only for the gorgeous photos). And she reaches the point where her words rang only too familiar:
“[A friend] encouraged me to build a better support system before I really harmed my mental and physical health… and before I started hating the very work I loved.”
This part made me do a double take. Since 2013, when I published my first book, I’ve been trying to build an author career. Along the way, I’ve had you, the readers of this blog, support me. However, I, too, found myself in need of further support. And I, too, found 2018 my most exhausting year todate. Despite several successes, not least of signing a contract with Patakis to publish my children’s books, I was burnt out.
On burning out
I’ve alluded to this in the past but I don’t normally mention how bad it was at times. The joy writing used to give me was largely gone, buried under a pile of sheer exhaustion. In the end, it came down to a simple choice: between keeping the family fed and happy, and holding on to my dream of a creative career. Burning the midnight oil every single night was taking too large a toll on all of us. It was time to acknowledge the simple fact that I’m no longer in my twenties: I can only do so much in a day. I needed to reclaim my weekends and afternoons, spend more quality time with the family, and increase my income.
So, it saddens me to admit that I haven’t done much writing since 2017. I’ve started half a dozen projects but never have the time to make any real progress with them.
For a while, I’d start the day with the best of intentions: write for an hour or so, then work on other stuff. But every morning, “real life” would barge in, making a mockery of my plans. I now write whenever I get some (elusive) free time, one chapter (or short story) at a time. And I’ve stopped berating myself for that. I can only do so much, and I don’t need to prove anything to anyone.
This last part is particularly important to me. Somehow, I managed to keep my guilt at bay. I’m doing the best I can–and that’s all anyone can ask of me (or anyone).
After all, it’s a Catch 22, isn’t it? Until my books can earn enough to let me focus on them, I can’t do so. But unless I do so, my books can’t earn enough. Maybe someday I’ll be able to both focus fulltime on my books and have enough free time to enjoy my family. To do a lot of things I can only dream of at the moment.
Maybe that moment will come sooner. Or it may come later. Or it may not come at all.
I’ve learned to be okay with that and to reign in my impatience. Had I not done so, I, too, would have ended up hating my writing. And that’s the last thing I want.
But I also want to acknowledge that I wouldn’t have made it this far without your support. So, I wish to say a big ‘thank you’ to all of you, and to everyone who has supported me in this journey. Or, as Melissa eloquently puts it:
Yes, we are all in the arena actively fighting for our own paths in life, claiming victories where we can, and recovering from our failures along the way. But it’s a wonderful feeling knowing that there’s the chance to cross paths with others who are looking to build and find even greater adventures together…and maybe help patch up each other’s wounds every now and then.
Thank you for sharing my journey with me. And to anyone struggling out there, remember: you’re not alone!