Not a starving artist.

I am 30 years old and I am nowhere near accomplished in my goals as a writer. Or as a sewist for that matter. Or in any other freely creative aspect of my life. And I am completely okay with that.

When I was about 18 or 19 years old I made a decision. I had finished school with poor marks and zero direction due to the truest of teenage distractions (boys and booze). I had toyed with many career paths. I was jobless, had no money and limited support, and just wanted to make a steady income. Deep down I knew that I wanted to be a writer, but I wasn’t going to burden people who couldn’t afford it with the task of propping up my dreams. So I had to shelve them. I had to get a job. I didn’t just have to get a job, but I also needed a career. Something that could eventually keep my head above water so much that I could maybe afford to write as well. Something that would carry me through being crap at my craft, then mediocre, then maybe one day good. Something that could carry me through submissions and rejections. And maybe even through a book deal or a writing contract that paid me money, but never enough to live off. Something to fall back on. Something to keep me from mounds of debt.

So I got a job at the local BigW and enrolled in a uni entry course. I fumbled my way into a social science degree: interesting enough to keep me engaged, but with enough majors available that might actually guide me to a job. I majored in Human Resources. I got a plum job in a graduate program for the state government in Sydney. I bounced around for a few years through gruelling, dull, busy-work and being tasked with managing trumped up projects. I had relationships and heartbreak. I moved house many times, got home sick for Newcastle and went running back there to a job I didn’t really want, giving up lots of money in the process. I dealt with trauma, death and ill health. I suffered.

Then I interviewed for a job doing what I was finally good at, at a place I could find meaning. I now work for a disability service provider, in HR, doing work I genuinely enjoy. I’ve done it for long enough to be confident in the advice I give.  I won’t for a second suggest that I have “made it” in this career. I could learn to do this well for the rest of my life. But I can now finally say that I am in a place where my career is not penetrating my every waking moment.

So, I am writing again.

When I was young and quite stupid in all other aspects of my life, I made a decision that the starving artist path was too hard. It was a very difficult decision to make but I take no shame in it and I don’t regret it. It was a choice that gave me power to now write with freedom and to not become disenchanted when my craft isn’t good enough to put food on the table. My creativity will never have that burden now.

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