Everyone has to do it. Everyone comes to a certain age and has to buckle down and earn a living. (Well, not everyone exactly, but a huge majority of people are responsible for earning enough of a crust to keep themselves going). But how do writers and other artists do it without driving themselves mental?
Many of the people I know whose passions lie in creative pursuits split their lives and efforts into categories. For example, they allocate a certain level of attention to the dreaded ‘day job’ that they grudgingly maintain to keep food on the table and a large portion of their remaining energy is funnelled into what they ambitiously think of as their ‘real job’. The problem with this is how much harder it becomes to keep this balance as you get older.
When you’re young or in further education it’s easy to get away with keeping your day jobs under control. Customer services are often ideal; working in bars or clubs or coffee shops or cinemas provides you with plenty of inspiration and (technically) a level of freedom and lack of responsibility. Perfect for those trying to pen a novel or get a band or film on the go.
However, most people get to a certain age and they want more. Whether it’s more money for luxuries or to pay for additions to their family or it’s a desk job where they get to sit down for the duration of their shift, there are plenty of reasons that encourage people to try and escape retail type industries.
Not content with a job that merely lines their pockets, the majority of these creatives also want one that leaves them with plenty of energy for their extracurricular pursuits. The problem for these demanding artistic types is that they are always greedy for time and space and there aren’t all that many jobs offering that combined with a decent wage in existence.
I spent plenty of time on minimum wage jobs and I was always frustrated by my lack of money and what ended up being a pretty constant state of boredom. Now I have a different kind of day job, and guess what? I resent that too. Mainly because it’s one I find difficult to leave behind when I close the office door behind me.
It’s funny how a global economic downturn can make people re-examine their priorities when it comes to work however, at the moment I’m thinking less about the space I want to write and more about how lucky I am to have a job and a dream at all. Or I’m trying anyway.