So, Steve is on his way to ReCONstruction, the Tenth Occasional North American Science Fiction Convention, in Raleigh, North Carolina. I had planned to go, but decided to stay home and work on Ghost Ship, which was due on Sunday, and still 50 grand short of a book.
My couple days of being able to stay inside the book paid off in that I now know not only how the dern thing ends, but how it gets there — which is gratifying. I’ve been alternating making notes with writing straight ahead, sentence structure be damned, with the goal of having a completed draft by the time I finish my vacation and go back to the day-job. The logic here is that I can edit while the day-job is dinning in both ears, but lately I’ve been having a bad time writing, ditto. I think I may be starting to crack under the sheer weight of numbers.
A while ago, one of my co-workers at the day-job asked me why I didn’t give up already with the “hobby” (that would be this), when it so plainly added a lot of stress to my life. I explained that, in 2007 and 2008, I earned significantly more at my “hobby” than I earned at the day-job; and would have done in 2009, as well, had any one of two payments scheduled for late fall arrived then, instead of in the first quarter of 2010. In 2010, I can’t tell yet which is winning, honest labor or hobby, because some scheduled payments are late.
You’re seeing the pattern here, right? What the day-job has in its “pro” column are: (1) on-time delivery of scheduled payments, and (2) affordable access to decent health care.
If I could get (2) any other way, the day-job and I would part company. Mind you, I don’t like uncertain payments, but I have coping strategies, built over a decade of freelancing without a net, and years of occasional short rations previous to that.
Which brings us, roundabout, to the question of why people make art: musician, writer, painter, sculptor — there are very few working artists who make very much money at their art, though some of us can pretty consistently manage a modest living (yes, I did say I earned more as a writer than as a secretary). There is, of course, the Adulation of Millions, but most artists of my acquaintance are pretty realistic about that aspect of the work.
Many working artists who do have day-jobs consciously choose to stay at a “lower” level, in order to have time and space to practice their art. I’ve made that decision myself, several times. We’re not idiots, most of us; we know what a promotion and the attendant mission-creep will do to the time we have for our work.
So! What have you — yes, you — given up for your art? Have you ever been tempted to give up your art? Have you given up your art? Do you regret it? Tell all; inquiring minds want to know.
And! The galley proofs for Carousel Tides have just landed in my in-box.