Why rule-based making rules

When I learned that my first installation project, catchabreath, was selected by the curating panel of MadehereMn, I was over the moon. I danced and jumped around, called my parents back home, started texting a few friends… and then the panic hit me. A deep, dark, loud panic. I stopped spreading the news and went into my (metaphorical) panic hole.

Generally speaking, you don’t want to be in a panic hole for more than a day or two. For your sake and for the sake of those around you. I am fortunate enough to know a great way out of there: I just start making.

I cut, fold, paste, paint, write with abandon and most importantly… without a plan.
Because a plan requires logical thinking, and logical thinking, in my case, means nothing but trouble.

The author, in her panic hole.

However, the first question people ask when I tell them about the project (which requires folding and assembling 1000 paper structures) invariably is: “How many of those can you fold in an hour?”
(sigh) I don’t know. Actually, I don’t want to know, because measuring my productivity, putting numbers on the process might bring me straight back to panic mode.

Now, I understand why tackling such a massive project without a plan might sound insane. Especially when you have a child, a day-job and house chores to deal with. But working without a plan doesn’t mean working without any rules. I strongly believe in rule-based making. I follow a set of my own, which are not based on time or numbers but on what my brain and body can or cannot do at a given time.

Lost in a sea of paper.

In the morning, I work on the comic books I translate for a living. I stop as soon as writing inspiration seems to disappear (which happens very quickly when I work on a book I don’t love). I then tackle the breakfast dishes (sigh), answer work emails (re-sigh) do my barre work-out (yeah!) and return to my translation… if inspiration is back. If not, I know better than to force it. I start working on my folding project, the rule being that whenever I lose energy or focus, I tackle a house chore.

Fold, fold, vaccuum the entryway. Fold, fold, do the laundry. Fold, fold, go to the store…

Does it sound sexy? Absolutely not. Is it efficient? Maybe.

All I know is that the chores give a sense of rythm to my work day and help me find my focus when I lose it.

I always meet work deadlines. The house is shiny by the time my son comes back from school, ready and eager to mess it up again (I love that little rascal).

So, plan or no plan, I’m pretty sure I will have folded a thousand paper thingies before I know it. Rule-based making rules!

The comic book I currently work on. No comment.

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