Out of the office on Wednesdays

This summer I plucked up courage to add this note to the bottom of my email signature. I have been taking time off on Wednesdays for more than a year. Now I decided it was time to make my semi-retirement days something more transparent and easier to plan around – for my clients and myself.

I didn’t feel guilty about this as I had noticed that many contacts at clients are also regularly ‘out of the office’. I get their automatic responses to my mails. I also remember, many years ago when I had just started freelancing, I had fixed days when I was not available.

So, now the time is right to reinstate part-time working and start moving towards retirement!

How do I spend my semi-retirement days?

Wednesday is now my regular day out of the office. My semi-retirement days are preferably spent outdoors, involve creativity but not with words. And, weather permitting, lunch at the beach!

I don’t plan any client work on Wednesdays, instead, we go sculpting. There’s a very nice studio in the Hague, which is not far from Scheveningen and some good beach cafes.

Creative process

Going to sculpting every week gives me a break from the computer and time to recharge my batteries. It’s often an opportunity for a ‘eureka moment’ while chiselling away, shaping a stone. Subconsciously, I’m mulling other things over too.

The creative process in sculpting is not dissimilar to copywriting and translating:

  • I have to work with the material I’m given;
  • I go through several rough drafts before the design emerges;
  • Sometimes a client isn’t clear about the story – then it’s my job to ask and clarify;
  • Explaining my ideas for a piece helps decide what to tackle next;
  • The work, stone or text, goes through many rounds of refining and polishing until I’m satisfied.

You may not realise, but just as much work goes into refining and polishing a stone as for shaping it from a rough block. As with writing and translating, it’s helpful to look at it from all angles, think about possible changes and improvements. It’s also helpful to put it away for a few days, them come back to it with fresh eyes and new vigour.

From stone to sculpture

I started working on this piece of serpentine during a summer workshop. Once I had the basic idea in my head, the sculpture emerged quite quickly. I finished this one within a few months. Here are some pictures of the raw stone and finished sculpture.

Raw stone

Dimensions and tools

Exploring the shapes

The finished item from all angles

Sculpture collection

Friends and colleagues on social media will have seen many of pictures of my stones as work in progress and finished sculptures. Now the time is ripe to make a space online for photos of my finished pieces, which you can find here.