I was talking to a friend of mine the other night about the struggle of being an artist while still being able to pay rent and eat—and it IS a struggle for many. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not comparing this struggle with that of, say, a soldier in a bunker getting shot at. What I am saying is that there is a section of ANY populace that makes the conscious decision to create, and for the vast majority of them it leads to a bottom-of-the-food-chain status on the economic ladder.
Some do it because they can’t do anything else. Some do it for love of the craft. Some do it because they want to strike it rich. Some do it… well, hell, there are lots of reasons. We’re frequently looked at as slackers and flakes and dreamers of impossible dreams. We’re scorned by most of the mainstream until and unless we “make it big.” We choose to forgo the daily grind of 8 to 5 (or 6 or 7 or 8) and kowtow to masters who all-to-frequently are undeserving of the term.
There are those among humanity who would do away with the arts by doing away with artists. We’re considered frivolous and non-contributors in many circles. And if we don’t contribute in a manner commensurate with the mainstream, then we are an enemy to their conformist sensibilities.
But every now and again, one of us finds the perfect gig, that means to transition from no-time artist to part-time artist to—hopefully—full-time artist. I was fortunate enough to find such a gig. I’m able to work part-time (about 20 or so hours a week) and still pay my mortgage, car, utilities and groceries. Granted, I have to catch up with my property tax, but I’m working on that… repairs and replacements of refrigerator, disposal, water heater and swamp-cooler all put a divot in my liquid assets.
I work as a technical writer for a growing software development company here in Denver, Colorado. And although I don’t think the two owners at Blue Dot Solutions know it, they are patrons of the arts in the classic Renaissance sense of the phrase. I simply could not be pursuing my writing career without the situation they’ve created for a writer. I owe them a debt of gratitude that I someday hope to be able to repay.
The reason I’m telling you all this is that, if you’re an artist who struggles to find the time to create, do your best to find a situation that allows you to meet your fiduciary obligations with the smallest amount of time and energy invested. Gigs like this are out there. They take time to find… and a little luck. You have to make the conscious decision to gamble just a little with your future. Do your best to get down to a bare-bones existence. Eliminate credit cards. Don’t buy that T.V. or Playstation. Don’t eat out, and each cheap when you eat at all. Tighten those belts you would-be creators. Invest in your creativity, because you have a gift and the world deserves to know about it. It means working hard… working harder than most people will ever know, but the means justify the ends, and the satisfaction you can engender from the effort is without compare.