Do What You Love (And All That Rot) Dept.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2013-09-21 14:00:00 No comments

Lesson learned for the week: Nobody ever deliberately gives the other side ammunition to shoot him down. They always do it unthinkingly. They take the stuff that falls out of your pockets, or your sleeves — or, in this case, your mouth — and shoot it back at you. And all the while they're doing it, they're laughing until their ribs split.

My case in point: I've suggested, on and off, how in my own case I might well have been lucky not to have to make a living doing the creative things I love. But two seconds' thought — and a read of the comments in an article on Alice in Chains -- showed me how easily that could become an argument along the lines of: Hey, "creative" types! Stop whining about how you can't make a living playing a guitar! Get off the stage and get real jobs like the rest of us. (The idea that musicians don't really "work" lasts until about when you actually meet a working musician, at which point the get-a-real-job rhetoric flies out the window and gets eaten by the crows.)

So let me see if I can put back some of my blown-off toes and refine my position.

It's hard, if not impossible, to speak from your own position on any given subject. Mercifully, it's a lot easier to separate your own case from a general case. I'm fortunate for being able to keep a fulltime job and do my creative thing separately, and not have to rely on the latter to keep the lights on and the fridge stocked. But I do now also see how that may not be optimal for everyone, because there are certain kinds of creative work that don't allow that luxury of separation. Touring musicians can't work a day job, because their day job is touring; there isn't time or opportunity to do much of anything else, barring having an employer with an uncommonly lenient PTO policy.

What I do not want to do, under any circumstances, is make an argument for how my situation is the morally superior one. It's the one I'm comfortable with. But it's too easy to argue moral superiority from a position of comfort.

From the standpoint of cold-blooded realism, not everyone will be able to get paid for doing the thing they love most. A market capable of delivering a living wage does not automatically manifest around every activity. The more esoteric the activity, the more we have to fight to make it known, to attract an audience for it in the first place — which requires that much more effort on our part, effort that might well be spent on more, well, profitable work.

But here's the thing. The fact that we don't have a world where everyone could get paid for doing exactly what they want isn't by itself reason to assume that's ideal, either.

Tags: business creativity marketing