Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

Don’t Quit Your Day Job!

I recently read a post on www.techdirt.com titled “Don’t Quit Your Day Job: Creativity is About Passion, Not Paychecks.”  (Love that title!) 🙂

The authors discuss how most creative endeavors are not ones that pay the bills for the artist who pursues them.  Many writers, painters, sculptors, photographers, gardeners, quilters and so on must work 40 plus hours at a completely unrelated job to pay the bills.  It is nice to know I am in good company.

My day job does not fulfill me creatively. I turn to writing, quilting, piano, violin and reading for that outlet.  But my day job does pay the bills.  More than that, my day job is one that I am very good at and extremely dedicated to.  It allows me to fulfill other aspects of myself such as my analytical side, my empathy and caring, and the side of me that always wanted to be a playground director! 🙂 I enjoy my job and all its challenges.

While many may dream of one day letting their art support them, others realize the danger in pursuing that goal. I learned this when I discovered I liked to quilt and sew and was actually good at it.  People would see a tote or quilt I made and say, “Oh, you should sell these.” This kind of comment always got my back up.  I have no desire to sew for a living though many people I am sure do and are successful at it.  For me, to do that for a living, would strip the joy from my hobby.

Writing is a slippery slope though…

Yes, I would love to be able to write full-time. But, I have learned that if I give myself endless hours to fill with writing, I will manage to fill them with everything but writing.  I will procrastinate and end up not writing a single word.  I fear that if I was given the luxury of unlimited time with my notebooks and characters, I would squander it alphabetizing the kitchen cupboards and organizing all of our closets by color. 

More importantly, I worry that if I could dedicate every waking minute to writing stories, it would no longer be the escape I need it to be.  Would I continue to find joy in the mere act of putting words on the page?  Would my characters continue to surprise me and run amok?  Would I still spend days thinking about my plot?

And the paycheck thing? Yes, yes, yes I want to publish my work, and getting paid for the effort would be a bonus. But I understand the odds of being a children’s author who can actually make a living wage at her craft are extremely slim, and I have learned to be okay with that. 

Maybe some day that will change.  Maybe I will hit upon the right combination of story, and publisher, and marketing plan, and audience to be the next big thing ala Harry Potter Mania.  But until that happens, I will just keep putting my words down on paper.  I will keep submitting to agents but I will not allow myself to lose the joy behind the act of writing.  That is what keeps me coming back for more. That is what passion over paycheck is all about – continuing to create even without the financial reward simply because you love it.

7 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on alison-writer-uk and commented:
    oops too late

    • Hey Alison — Thanks for the reblog! 🙂

  2. Isn’t it sad though, that people don’t seem to value art that much? That if you want to be an artist, you have to starve and struggle? I don’t think that makes the end product all that much better. Beethoven had patrons and produced some of the world’s greatest music. Bring me some patrons! 🙂

    • I agree! If only I could find some patrons to pay those pesky bills… 🙂

  3. Writing is an art, I believe. My husband and I both want to make our living at art – one form or another. He carves, I write. I am a housewife and I have the opportunity for writing, but like you said, managing time is a factor. I spent an hour this morning (and I’m still not done) trying to recover my daughter’s Apple ID for iTunes and figure out some billing charges. Krikey! Having a lot of technology means managing a lot of technology. I never have as much time as I’d like to write, but I’m going to try. I’m tired of reading about Lyme disease and studying it. I can’t wait to get back to writing!

    • Good luck on the technology! It seems as soon as I figure one new tech task out, another one crops up and suddenly all my new technology is outdated again.

  4. phoenixrisesagain

    I feel and think like you: I probably change into a houseproud maniac and keep it overly clean at all costs. I just have reduced hours from 39 to 30 which will help to get my balance right between creativity and paying bills. But I think I would lose a lot of drama in my life which makes me write and therefore I won’t quit mine (unless they annoy me so much I can’t bear them anymore ;-)…..)

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