I’ve Lost My Voice

Social media is an unusual thing. It’s a cocktail of connections, instant satisfaction, and perceived perfection. These are all marvellous things. They foster an easy community full of beauty, learning and wonder. Why wouldn’t I, or anyone, want to be surrounded by that? So when I found the quilt world and its associated role in social media, you bet I jumped right in! (I’ve said before that I didn’t realise quilt blogs existed when I started mine. I naively thought I was having an original idea!) Ever since that graceful swan dive into the pool of Instagram, Facebook, Blogger, Flickr, and Bloglovin’ there’s been nothing but splashes of love.

Then one day recently, I noticed I was losing my own voice. I could still talk, except my voice was sounding like everyone else’s. You see, it wasn’t the voice I was losing after all, it was the individuality of my own voice that was diminishing. I had spent so much time in social media land that I began to acclimate to my surroundings. As I said, it’s a beautiful place, so it seemed natural to want to do so. Even if my voice were angelic, it doesn’t make it my own. (Trust me, I am your worst karaoke nightmare!) So the more I tried to create, the more I realised my own own own output was being heavily influenced by the words, thoughts, sounds, and beauty of my surroundings.

I can’t blame this on social media. This pervasive network is a constant of the world we live in, and it’s not going away any time soon. I’ll admit to being blinded by its allure. Plus, I’m not saying that all I’ve created is a stylistic copy of another, or isn’t born from some part of me. (Y’all know I still do plenty of my own catwalk-marching-drum-beating fabulousness!) But, I had started to feel tugs at my aesthetic towards what I know I’m not. I want to ensure I curtail that influence before it grows out of control. My desire is to be as original to myself as possible, maintaining my own singular voice in our community. I’m not so naive to think that any of us can work entirely from a creative vacuum, but I am taking steps to minimise the external influence of social media land.

I want inspiration to come from outside the quilting blogosphere, so it feels fresh, new, and individual. Do I rectify this by banning all social media from my life? Impossible. Instead, I have reevaluated what is important to my creative soul and voice, in relation to how I still participate in our amazing community. Attempting to read every blog and look at every photo (as I often try to do) leaves me scanning more than absorbing. So I’ve cleaned out the blogs I follow, and culled my Instagram feed. I’ve deleted my Flickr account. I’ve minimised my Facebook groups. I’ve also realised I don’t have to respond to every single blog comment, as that in itself takes away from the time I have to create. (I’m happy for you to have the last word!) These initial small steps will give me the time and distance to create the quilts that are uniquely me.

Please don’t misinterpret my words for non-gratitude, disinterest, or a desire to eschew the quilt community from my life. That couldn’t be further from the truth! If you know me at all, you know I love you, the Glitterati, and all that we’ve built together. But I need this, both in mind and body, to recentre my process and ensure my voice is my own. Remember, your voice is just as beautiful, and it takes all of our differences, to make a resounding chorus for our quilting community.

Postscript: All images are new filler blocks for the t-shirt quilt.

41 Responses

  1. Salley says:

    Clapping my hands Molli!

  2. Congratulations! Your voice is beautiful!

  3. Blue Moth says:

    Your voice is distinctive and different, as is your work.

  4. So True. The internet is a great equaliser where anyone has a voice and everyone can publish. As the volume of the content grows, it is necessary to become selective- there simply is not enough time to look at everything.
    On the second point you make about creativity, I share your view. From something to come from within I believe you need that personal space away from outside influences. I am not sure who it was, but a great person said that when it comes to art (yes, quilting is art), it has all been done before by nature. Let's celebrate nature and make more beautiful quilts!

  5. It's hard to balance inspiration with overwhelm, and there's always that fear of missing out on something. That social media, she's tricky!

  6. Mareenchen says:

    Good on you! It's impossible to read everything and we're so easily overwhelmed by other's creations – it's good to take a step back, heck, even a time-out. It's too easy to get sucked in – cause it is nice and cozy round here – and go to bed without a stitch of your own. Do what you're doing and you'll be just fine – and fabulous.

  7. Auntie Pami says:

    Good for you. Hope to hear from you occasionally.

  8. I think some very deep thinking has come out of this bed rest. I applaud your direction and wish you the best. Your body as well as your inner voice is getting stronger 🙂

  9. Pat says:

    Good for you. It is so true that you can spend the day (or your life!) being overwhelmed by thoughts and creations of others. Much better to take a few steps back and breathe.

  10. Leanne says:

    It takes a long while, I found, to develop the right balance between participation in the on line quilting community – which is how I prefer to see it, not as different social media things – and quilting and creating oneself. It's good to recognize the need to keep adapting until you find your own best fit. Your blocks are great for the quilt.

  11. crossquilt says:

    I agree with this. I'm not big on working with solids but I definitely feel the pull based on many wonderfully fabulous solid creations out there. But, using that trend takes me away from me. Using precuts takes me away from curating my own quilt palette, which is what I really enjoy doing. I've curtailed that a bit, too. I don't want my stuff to look just like everyone else's. I want it to look like me. Cheers to you. I don't see how you could ever lose your own voice with your design.

    Crystoll at aol dot com

  12. jeifner says:

    Good for you. It's one if the reasons I look at other arts: fashion, graphic design, art museums etc. Then I can keep my art or creativity in a broader context.

  13. You go, Moll. Do what you have to do for you!

  14. We really must be children of the same great-grandmother! 🙂 I, too, have struggled with this … and a related problem — for 15 years I owned a large brick-and-mortar quilt shop. I bought it 'turn-key' (meaning someone else started the store) so it came with its own well established personality, clientelle and staff. 🙂 Of course, over the time I owned it (roughly equal to the original founder's tenancy), I added my own 'voice' to the mix (for the betterment, I hope:). The real problem was and continues to be – from a creative, artistic standpoint, it was a diversion on my own pesonal path.

    I have deep roots in traditional quilt making (come from Appalachia, with two quilt making grandmothers) and love patchwork symmetry, etc. I have no particular desire to be an antique reproductionist, though. Over the years prior to my shop, I was moving solidly into the 'art' quilting camp and using fabric as a medium for self-expression in a sort of stylized representational way. Searching for my own voice (along with all the other aspects of daily life:).

    I was the major designer and sample creator for my shop for most of my ownership time … and, of course, my customers were pretty solidly quilt makers as opposed to quilt designers (not all of them:). I loved helping them with their projects and gave my expertise whenever and wherever I could … but I kind of lost my own quilting self in the process. I felt my own self expression leaking away and pulled it back whenever I could … but there was a never-ending struggle between my professional and personal creativity (I guess that might be the usual with any job that deals with the same world you want to live in personally?:).

    Much like the ease of submerging your own self in the stream of social media. Constant struggle to stay 'afloat' and create true to one's own self. 🙂

    Be like that proverbial frog – just keep churning butter (and sparkling, of course:)!

    🙂 Linda

  15. Hey no worries – I've done the same thing myself. (Though obviously not with your content, LOL!!)

  16. OMG – I knew that the t-shirt quilt would be fabulous, but those blocks are exceeding my expectations. I can hardly wait to see this quilt.

  17. Adrienne says:

    Amen! I have been feeling the same way. More sewing, less looking at sewing from a distance

  18. Sarah says:

    It is a tricky thing, finding the right balance – I love that I have learnt to quilt without a single class because of the generosity of quilters on blogs, flickr, Instagram etc but I went through a spell where I realised that I was spending so much time looking at other people's work rather than sewing myself. Then I was quite seriously ill last year and I couldn't really sew but social media let me feel like I was still involved. This year I have been recovering and it has been a case of sewing or the quiltosphere because I didn't have the time or energy for both – I chose to sew and in some ways it has been good to have a break from reading blogs, Instagram etc. as I got back to sewing what I like, not worrying about the fabric of the moment or feeling like I should be joining in a particular swap. Now I'm getting back to something like normal I'm slowly rejoining social media but I think I'll keep it more controlled than I did before, because I have limited time and it is the sewing that really makes me happy.
    I hope you find a balance that works for you because you are fabulous!

  19. The O's says:

    You manage to echo my thoughts in many posts and in this one. I too spent hours pouring over competitors websites, signing up for newsletters under a 'spy' email address, seeing what they were doing and if they were copying my ideas, I lot my individuality trying to be individual. Consumed by trends I 'had to read so and so's blog every day' I felt ripped off when there wasn't a post up. It wasn't until I started to blog and spend more time engaging in social media I realised just how much of a time vortex it is. I logged out of FB on my phone, I don't have instagram set up and I did have a flicker account I set up just for a QAL I did, someone did a broken herringbone one a while back I wanted to be a part of… Now I am working on my FB logged in time on the PC and haven't blogged for ages. I blog my sewing as a visual diary for myself more than anything/anyone… with the adventure ahead of us I will be reigniting something bloggish but I haven't worked out quite what yet. More for those friends who want to keep up to date with stuff rather than forcing it into my FB feed or blog roll.

    Don't stop what you are doing, you do do it rather well. I'd never have met you if it wasn't for this fleck of glitter in my Bloglovin' feed xxx

  20. Anja says:

    Good for you! Do what makes you happy.

  21. leanne says:

    oh and loving all the filler blocks !

  22. As, I read through this post my only thoughts where …. ditto, ditto, ditto, and yep ditto. Oh, the double edge sword that is social media. Sometimes a good purge is what our souls need. Happy creating.

  23. One Wee Bird says:

    Sparkle bright like a diamond x

  24. DeborahGun says:

    So true – I need to do a cull of blogs and instagram feed too. But your t-shirt quilt is continuing to give me lots of inspiration 🙂

  25. Such great commentary. To go even further I think people all start looking and acting alike because they watch other people living their supposed ideal lives on TV (gave it up years ago) and feel like they all need to wear the same clothes, etc. How could we ever want to give what makes us unique? It drives me nuts with quilting to see a new fabric line come out and EVERYONE is making something with it-turns me completely off. My solution is to inspiration elsewhere. I wake up every morning at look at the blog mymodernmet, surround myself with artist friends who do not work with fabric and limit social media as you have. Ultimately everything I make is for ME and the biggest fun is the creative process.

    Hillary

  26. kitty says:

    Congratulations on your decision to get rid of what you feel as an intrusion into your own creativity!
    When you come into the quilting community, I think it's just natural that you immerse yourself in the blogosphere with all its talented, friendly, encouraging members and their creations. All this is very inspiring and personally I'm very grateful to this wonderful community for all the inspiration it gives me.
    If , however, you feel like you do- it makes you adapt your creations to certain trends more than you would originally do-, it's a good thing to step back to reaffirm your own creative uniqueness. Maybe later you'll let all these sources of inspiration in again and you'll experience that you translate them into something that is uniquely yours.

  27. Carol Q says:

    yep, totally agree. What you say makes so much sense and …… you don't have to comment back in return! lol (I have been very touched that you have bothered to take the time to do so.)

  28. Laurelle says:

    I suspect everyone has been feeling a little the same . I know I have! I stopped trying to read everything every day. Really no one expects a reply to every comment. More time for sewing 🙂

  29. Sarah_L_N says:

    I agree, social media takes up so much time! I have 100s of blogs on my reader, I only read 3 or 4 religiously unless a title/photo catches my eye. Stopped using flickr and Instagram and have even eased off on Facebook the last week or so, which is crazy for me! And I never expect replies to the random comments I leave, half the time I don't see what kind of response can be made to them anyway 😉

  30. I agree so much with this post, Molli. I have been going through a very tough time personally over the last 2 weeks, and while being away from sewing for a bit it has forced me to have many of these same reflections.

  31. Becki says:

    Molli, I totally agree with your post today. I have never had an Instagram or flickr account, and I think FB is a tool of the devil (at least in my life). I love your work and have really enjoyed following you over the past year. I look forward to seeing your posts in the future (however frequent or infrequent) and seeing your projects. Keep sparkling!!!

  32. Anne says:

    Ah hah! This explains why Flickr informed me I'm now the admin for the broken herringbone group. (Thanks flickr!) I don't blame you in the slightest, and I am definitely finding myself 'scanning instead of reading' when it comes to blogs. It seems to be part of a general progression of bloggers. I look forward to seeing what you create when you find your voice again. 🙂 For me QDAD is how I managed to turn more inward and explore my own fancies and I feel my style is definitely much more my own these days (why, I haven't touched my low volume stash in months! :O lol) which I'm grateful for. That said, it's a unique journey and everyone has their own path. I truly do look forward to seeing where you head, and although YOU may not be hearing your voice, as you can see, everyone else still does. 🙂 <3

  33. pennydog says:

    That makes total sense. I must say if I design something it is inspired by the outside world, whether a found object, an interesting antique floor, nature, that kind of thing. If it's more about the making than the designing (or I'm in a swap and my partner's tastes are different from my own style) then I find other people's influences an easy route.

  34. Kristy says:

    No words…just want to LIKE this post as much as I can.

  35. I find to much blog reading depressing. It makes me feel like a no body – which I am but I don't need to be reminded of it. One afternoon a week for about 1/2hour. Thats enough!

  36. Molli, you are not alone in feeling this way. It is evident how easily we can all get "caught up" in the flurry of amazing things on social media. But weeding out and stepping back to re-focus is something I often have to do myself. Kudos to you for realizing it and doing what is necessary to keep sparkling 🙂
    Amanda

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