Monday, July 8, 2013

What You Love

I love writing!


This one dude at my old job used to ask me why I do my webcomic if I don't get paid. I told him I loved doing it and he immediately began giving me suggestions on what I could do to make my readers pay for the comic. I didn't bother to explain to him that I have no desire to make money off the comic and there are few enough people reading it in the first place without me completely stamping out my entire audience by asking them to pay for it. That's just kinda how it is for webcomics, and though you can sell related merchandise and sometimes people will buy it, very few people will continue to read a comic that is behind a paywall.

I do intend to write for a living, but the money isn't why I'm doing it. Just like with my webcomic, I absolutely would keep doing it even if nobody ever paid me for it. It's not negotiable. I will do it. I'll do it if I don't have time. I'll do it if I don't feel good. I'll do it if nobody reads it. I'll do it if EVERYBODY reads it. And I'd like to do it for money, but that's only because I'd certainly get to do more of it if it were my only job.

There's a weird stigma in this society that you're supposed to get your fulfillment from your career. You're supposed to get invested in a job that satisfies your sense of purpose and makes you part of something bigger. And it's discouraged in this society to just settle, to be satisfied with a job that does nothing for you personally, intellectually, emotionally, or spiritually. It's as if money is what makes something become a legitimately worthwhile thing to do; if I'm making big bucks as an author, that's fantastic, but as soon as I'm writing stories that aren't raking in the cash and aren't even being read by anyone but me and a small group of followers on the Internet, well that's just silly and pointless, isn't it? (Spoiler: NO.)

I have a job I like. I'm an administrative assistant at a transportation engineering consulting firm. I type, I make coffee, I make copies, I help the engineers with their computers, I order supplies, I do some light accounting and coordination, I do business development, I edit documents (quite a lot of editing documents). I like my co-workers and I think my boss is great (seriously). They pay me generously. My work environment is very comfortable. And, obviously, I wouldn't keep doing it if they didn't pay me. I am not emotionally invested in the job, because it is a support position for others' careers, not something I do to gain fulfillment for myself. I do it to keep a roof over my head, food on the table, and the electricity going to power my computer so I can write more stories.

People assume I must be dying to quit my job and write full time. No, I'm not. I absolutely don't mind being in a support position at my job. Most authors need a day job, even if they're fairly successful and their books sell. The job allows me to have exactly what I want: the opportunity to write while comfortable. I don't believe I need to derive my life's purpose from the same thing I do for money. In an ideal situation, sure, it would be nice if we could all be paid for the thing we love to do (and would do without being paid), but not all passions are equally likely to be lucrative, and some things that need to be done aren't anybody's passion.

We shouldn't be shaming people for failing to create a livelihood out of what inspires them or for not pursuing payment (or living wages) in exchange for their passion. It's just weird and puts unnecessary pressure on people to find satisfaction in ways that are unlikely to yield it.


  1. I love this!! There was an interesting thread yesterday on G+ (do you G+?) about finding meaningful work. This is definitely relevant. I've always wondered why, when somebody says "What do you do?" We feel like we have to say what we do FOR MONEY. Silly, really.

    Love hearing people talk about choosing, and then being satisfied with their choice, and not letting the world tell them what they OUGHT to be striving for.

    1. I don't really use the G+ network--don't post on it or share things with it or whatever--but I guess I technically have an account since I have to for YouTube and this blog. Anyway, funny that this was discussed when I was discussing it. I'm not sure why people expect us to answer "what we do for a living" as if that's supposed to be what we live FOR.

      Most people spend a long time chasing their dreams and most people never achieve their dreams or they don't quite get them in the way they'd hoped. I don't want to feel like I can't be happy until I get what I hope to get, because I am happy in between. I can have goals and hopes without being devastated that I don't have them yet and without living like the in-between times are pointless.

  2. Something to chew on, that's a definite. Seems kinda a default, which ascribes no small measure of misery on those of us who have swallowed such a concept as rote.