When I began writing a book three years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. I knew, from past experience, that to shirk the call and the interior soul-push to get going on something that was creatively haunting me was a bad idea. I knew that sitting down to see if I had something to say—to just be courageous enough to sit there and write for a while to see what wanted to come out of me—that obedience to my own “calling”—was the only way to have what I was saying I truly wanted: that is, a creative life.
The kicker of being a creative soul is this: we have no clue most of the time, and we’re not taught, how to be a successful artist. Sure, there are tons of books out there that get us up next to a bunch of amazingly delicious ideas about getting our hands into our artistic process.
But no one is teaching us how live while we’re doing it. No one is helping us ward off the very real fear that if we engage in our art, we will end up becoming the proverbial “starving artist.”
And this is where our day job comes into play—where the rubber meets the road in crafting an artist’s life. We have got to have a way to support our self if we’re going to have a creative life over time. Meaning, not just for today and next month, but over the course of years.
We can’t expect that we can take on the starving and struggling stereotype of an artist’s life and continue to thrive. Why not? Can’t we just “kick-start” an artist’s career by dumping all of our efforts into our creativity and then let it consume our days until we “make it”? Isn’t that what we want anyway—a life with art at the center?
Sure we do. But here’s the thing. We have no control over outcomes in our artist’s life. We don’t know if this painting series, this CD, or this sculpture will be the one that lifts off the ground, or if it’s going to be the 27th one. And in order to get our hands in our artist’s work on a regular basis, we need something solid under our feet or we won’t be able to get back to it in a solid, steady way.
Art takes time. And yes, we’d love to have open-ended days with no concerns about money or paying the rent. But that’s not the life of most artists. For most of us, we have to man-up and woman-up and support what we love. Our day job is our gift that way—a gift from the divine that lets us work in slow, steady steps over the course of time, building our art life into something that can really stand up on its own two feet. And that, after all, is the whole point.