Bill Roper (billroper) wrote,
Bill Roper

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Muses and Responsibilities

The following was inspired by some thoughts that I read from the_gwenzilliad and zanda_myrande. Note that what I'm saying doesn't necessarily have any application to either of them, just that it caused me to think of these things.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with attempting to make a career as an artist, writer, musician, actor, or what have you, if that's where your muse takes you. It's better that people have jobs that they love doing. (It's even better when they're actually good at them, but that would be a different discussion altogether.)

Having made that decision though, you need to live with the consequences of your actions. Now when I say that, I don't mean putting up with the folks who ignorantly say, "Oh, that's not a real job." It is a real job or, at least, exactly as real as you choose to make it be. I'm talking about the fact that these careers are hard work if you're going to be successful at them and that in order to be successful at them, you're likely to have to make real sacrifices for some period of time.

You're likely to earn less than you would if you had a "steady job", certainly during the time when you're honing your craft. Heck, you may need a steady job while you're figuring out how to make a living doing that thing you really want to do. The stereotype of the unemployed actor working as a waiter or waitress exists for a reason. If you're able to make do on what you can bring in, that's fine. On the other hand, you don't really get to complain about the fact that you're not making as much money as you'd like to (ok, you can complain about it some, but I wouldn't recommend pushing it) because this is what you've chosen to do for your personal satisfaction. There are monetary rewards and psychic rewards and trade offs between them. It's great when you can get both at the same time and maybe you will get them both eventually as you succeed in running after and tackling your muse.

You also need to think about your responsibilities to your family, whoever they may be. Just because you're chasing your muse, you haven't been given a blanket pardon from the Governor that would allow you to walk away from your responsibilities. Your family might choose to support you because they love you and want you to be happy; they might also take offense at how your pursuit of happiness is messing up their lives. That's for you and them to work out and, if you care about your family, you figure out how to work it out and you may make compromises. That's ok. Your muse will not be offended by the act of compromise.

Let me pick on an example. Misty Lackey spent years working for American Airlines writing computer code. At night and on weekends, she wrote. It was hard work. Eventually, though, she got to the point where she no longer needed the day job. And that was great.

Ok, how about me? Well, I'm really lucky. I have a day job that I like and that pays me well. But every so often, I amuse myself with thoughts of trying to make it as an improv comic. Hey, fat guys are funny, right? And it's not like I don't have a couple of clues about what I'm doing there.

But I'd have to give up other things that I love in order to do that. It'd probably end up playing hell with my relationship with Gretchen, not because she wouldn't be supportive, just because it's really hard to make it in that sort of career, especially starting at my age. And I wouldn't have the income that I have now, which makes it possible for me to do other things that I like doing, including eating regularly.

So I'm happy enough with what I do. And I feed my muse occasionally with SpaceTime Theater, or by writing a song, or singing at a filk.

You should be happy with what you do too. But you also need to accept the consequences as part of the bargain.
Tags: musings

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