Creative projects, god love them, have a start, and they have an end.
Sometimes the end date is known from the beginning, and sometimes not. This creative project, i.e. the blog Dream Big Cape Breton, didn’t have a set end. When I started it almost three years ago on January 25, 2012, I was just giving something a shot. I was typing into what seemed like a void, and then saying on Facebook “Hey everyone! Here is this thing I am doing! Read it!”
And god love you, you all did. And I kept writing, and you kept reading, and this blog and the Facebook group took on a life of its own. It showed me what the hell I’m capable of (writing almost daily for almost three years), and what people were interested in reading about this place (everything!). I gave talks, I engaged in thousands of conversations in person, over email, and in Facebook comment threads. I interviewed over thirty people. I became a regular on the local CBC radio station Issue Panel. I thought and wrote and thought and wrote about this place. I designed cards and stickers and started a little side business selling those. I thought and wrote and thought and wrote some more.
It’s been an incredible three years. I absolutely do not regret all the work, all the energy, all the thinking and writing and thinking and writing.
But it’s time to wrap things up.
How do I know? Well, for one, I just do. I know it in the way any creative person knows when a project they’ve been working on and pouring themselves into is “done”. It’s almost an itchy feeling, like “OK, I can’t look at this anymore, I can’t extract one more single drop of creative love from this!” I really, really feel the need to move my creative energy on to something new.
But I’ll also say that in mid-November of 2014 I started to feel intensely private. Like, don’t-want-to-share-anything-about-myself-online kind of private. And that was a bit of a problem, because I had built an online presence, a persona, of myself, tied closely to the island where I live. And, to be honest, I’m also tired of talking about Cape Breton! I think it’s OK to admit that. I mean, I still live here, and I still love aspects of it, but there are aspects of the place that can really get me down and burn me out.
And when you’re seen as a “community youth leader,” as I was, I felt a lot of pressure to engage on all fronts, know about all the issues, and put all my energy into ‘making change happen’. Which ends up feeling like a huge sinkhole. And, yeah, likely I put a lot of that pressure on myself. I mean, nobody was coming to my door and knocking and saying, “Leah, do all these things!” Maybe someone else with a different personality would have balanced things differently, handled things differently. But at the end of the day, this is who I am and how I handled it.
So all of this together — the privacy, the itch for new creative projects, and the burnout on Cape Breton — was making me not feel joy about the blog project anymore. But I wasn’t ready to let it go, not yet. So, I took a blogging break for Christmas. And I thought a lot about it, took walks, talked to friends, and remembered from times past that an end of a project isn’t actually an end. It’s a transition into something else. Our skills are never wasted. They get repurposed into new projects. And that’s pretty brilliant!
So what’s next?
Well, for the blog, I think in time I’m going to change this website over into “www.leahnoble.com”, so that I can use it wherever I choose to live in the world. I’d like for it to house the archives of this blog, as well as my design and writing portfolio. I’m thinking about getting more serious about my creative business, but I want to step back from being a ‘leader’ or a ‘community voice’. Because I’m not comfortable in that role any more. The Internet is great for lots of reasons, but it’s also not-great in some ways, and I’m increasingly feeling that the insta-sharing we all do isn’t healthy, at least not for me. I want to feed my creative self, and that creative self is so ready to be more private, less “instant,” and more free.
I adore writing. That will remain. I adore positivity – and I’ll keep the Facebook group going so we can continue to use that space we’ve all made together, to share good things about where we live. But as for what my next creative endeavour is, I’m not sure yet! And that’s exciting, and scary… but mostly exciting.
Thanks, as always, for reading. You’ve blessed me with every page view, every share and every comment. There aren’t enough “thank you’s” for all you’ve given me, as readers. Be well! And I hope to see you down the road.
Photos are from the photo shoot I did last summer with my friend Morwenna Hancock. The post from that shoot is here.