Not too long ago, a friend and I had a conversation about the double edged sword of making a living off of what you love. For him, it was music, for me it’s writing.
He told me about writing songs just because he knew it would sell, and upon getting to hear the song he was talking about, I found I was disappointed… disappointed by the song (most of which just told people to consume alcohol and take part in intercourse) and I was disappointed by him. The song just seemed so unlike him and I wondered if he had betrayed his passion, or… what?…sold out?
It seems ideal… making money off of what you love so it’s not really “work” except that it changes what you produce and it changes you. Listening to other songs he wrote – for women, for humor, for fun, I saw his talent so much more and the pleasure from it was far more evident and so I enjoyed it a lot more too.
Does money ruin what you love?
Recently I’ve taken to accepting a variety of jobs that offer me monetary benefits for my words. Different styles, different formats, different techniques – they all help me write because I learn more, but as I accept writing offers and as I produce content according to their needs and specifications I find that I am unable to give them words that don’t satisfy me and in order to make a fair exchange of money for quality I’m beginning to wonder what words I’ve left for myself.
I’m blessed that I can reap benefits of something I enjoy and something I’d do for free just because I want to… but accepting paychecks, writing things knowing I’m going to be paid, I feel almost guilty.
I’m usually too busy to dwell on the guilt but I find the disappointment in myself at it’s prime when I open my blog, click “New Post” and upon finding the blank space… I don’t have anything to say. Not because I don’t have thoughts, but because I was already paid to put those thoughts somewhere else… under a name… in a publication… on a website… and here, where I write for me, where I write because I want to… I feel blank. Like I tweaked myself and altered my words to fit into a box that tells me how good I am per word or per post. Like what I actually do post here is a lie, saying it’s pashmina when really it’s one of those cheaper blends.
I suppose the real tragedy is that I don’t think I have an alternative… if I wasn’t doing this, I don’t know what I would be doing. I think I’d feel like I compromised more if I worked for an NGO/INGO, I can’t be a political expert all of a sudden, and although my friend becomes one with his voice,his lyrics and his music, he’ll probably go on to get his PhD and be a professor and I… I’ll probably still struggle wondering what I’ve got left that’s me, wondering when I’ll be able to write “my stuff” instead of writing for who pays me.
So here we have it, the harsh truth, “reality”, the natural progressing of “growing up”, of having to save, of thinking about my future, of considering marriage, of life… at the end of my blog post, it’s so obvious… money matters.
I just wish it didn’t.