Sunday, September 12, 2010
Going out on a Limb...or Maybe Not
At some point, it seems that many artists get to a crossroads. It seems painful or traumatic...usually somewhat epic, but it feels like life asks us to make a decision about whether or not we're going to live by our art.
It usually takes the form of having to choose between keeping our full-time job and continuing our creative work (that in these moments normally doesn't pay well enough for us to quit our full-time jobs). We feel stuck. Our focus is more and more on our art and less and less on our paying gig. Our boss notices. Things reach a head.
So, first things first. If you're not there, you don't have to get there. I truly believe that a good portion of this is our subconscious trying to scuttle the whole "living by our art" thing. Most of us have some pretty negative voices in our heads about that whole deal, and success isn't really part of it.
In other words, focusing on our art is not an excuse for checking out of our "real" jobs. They're paying the bills. Writing or filming or painting or acting or whatever it is that you're doing is MUCH easier with the bills paid. Period.
Now, if you do find yourself in this position, don't panic. Stop. Breathe. Life isn't necessarily asking you to make a choice between these two things. Before you storm out in a huff, yelling back over your shoulder that you'll succeed or starve, remember that starving does strange things to the creative process...not many of them good.
Find the third option. It's not a compromise. It's not trying to reconcile the two seemingly opposing choices. It's finding a way forward that honors our need to survive but also recognizes our desire to create.
I'm not saying you should never give up that day job. I'm just saying to stop and breathe before you make a rash decision. We should never make a decision based on fear. Giving up our art so that we can survive is a fear-based decision. Storming out of the day-job so we can "suffer for our art" is too. Art doesn't demand our suffering. It may ask for us to be more creative in how we manage our lives, but it doesn't want us to be in pain.
So, maybe instead of going out on that limb, we can climb back down the tree, go inside and fix ourselves a nice cup of hot chocolate...as we sit down to begin creating again. 'Cause that day job starts early, and we do need our beauty sleep. :)