Two recent essays have been rattling in my brain recently.
Let me start with an Opinionator article for the New York Times by Robert Markowitz: “Abandoning the Work I Hated.”In it, Markowitz travels some well-trod territory. I had a soul-killing but well-paid job. I hated it. It was hurting me physically. I quit. I found my passion. I pursued it, and while it was tough to make ends meet at first, now I’m so much happier. (In Markowitz’s case, he hated being an attorney, and loves being a clown / children’s musician.)
I feel like I hear this tale A LOT. “Find your passion.” “Do what you love and the money will follow.”
Here’s my beef with this type of advice. I feel like very often it’s dispensed by people who are not, in fact, making a living off their work (and by “making a living” I mean “enough money for basic living expenses and health insurance coverage”). They have a spouse with a stable income. Or inherited wealth, or family funding.
So I couldn’t help but wonder: do clowning and children’s shows really pay Mr. Markowitz’s bills?
That’s why I was so delighted by Ann Bauer’s piece for Salon: ““Sponsored” by my husband: Why it’s a problem that writers never talk about where their money comes from.” Ms. Bauer was honest about her income. And called out other writers for not being forthright with young authors. Her honesty so refreshing, but so frustratingly rare.
In thinking all this over, I got angry, frankly. We tell young people to pursue their dreams, to take a risk. Find their passion, start a business. But nobody is fessing up when it comes to the financing.
So in some small way, I’m going to attempt to get some honest information out there. My plan is to publish a series of interviews with people pursuing creative careers, exploring how folks make ends meet (or not). Welcome the new section of my blog, “Creative Financing” (get it?).