I was talking to a friend yesterday, a musician, and he was excitedly filling me in on some gigs he’d been able to play recently. At one point, we were talking about the joy of being able to make money doing what you love. He said, “You know, people try to say ‘It’s not about the money, it’s just about art, it’s about your passion!’ And there is that, but there’s also ‘I’m hungry. I need to eat.'”
There’s always that tension between desire and reality, and they never quite match up. Sure, my daydream is to have a little peaceful place where I can just sit and write–while we’re dreaming, let’s say it’s a flat in Paris–or maybe an empty clocktower, like Lemony Snickett–and scribble away on my beloved stories, bringing characters to life, writing just for pure joy. Probably wearing a beret. Not that I look good in a beret, but this is my daydream world, so shhhh!
But I don’t live in my daydream world. And in this world, I get hungry. I need to eat. And the general public may not always share my enthusiasm for my fiction. Or even if they do, they may not share my view that they should shell out hard-earned cash for it. At least, not at first. Not without hard work on my part. Not without the insanely boring and overwhelming work of marketing and advertising. The me in my Paris clocktower never has to bother with buying ads, doing blog tours, or any form of promotion whatsoever. But the me in my somewhat cluttered Texas bedroom with no beret whatsoever has to think about these things.
Not only that, but the Texas bare-headed me has to sometimes *gasp* write things that are not all that fun, and I am not all that passionate about. Recently I was hired to do a series of freelance articles, and while the topics are indeed interesting, article writing and APA citations are not really my idea of creative joy. But at the same time–I’m writing. I’m forming ideas from words and sentences, and I’m getting money for it. The same goes for audiobook production–I like reading other people’s stories, but I quite honestly hate the editing part of it. It’s tedious work. But again–I’m involving myself in stories. I’m bringing them to life. And I’m getting money for it. So what if it isn’t all my highest ideal of artistic endeavors? So what if it means my work has to move over a little to make room for more lucrative pursuits?
It’s the real world, and I’m hungry. And I’m getting money to work with stories and words, and I think that makes me pretty darn lucky.