Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive
23Jan/18Off

Thinking about Work-Work-Work Balance

So this time of year is panning out to be a lot of what I need: Lots of open time blocs to manage things like household and self-care stuff, as well as time to focus hard on the shop and writing while still getting enough hours at the sustaining part-time gig that I'm unlikely to starve.

Get tired of sweet potatoes and chicken, maybe, but not starve.

And what I'm noticing is that it's Very Easy for me to grab the jewelry stuff, or the embroidery, but hard to sit down to the writing. Part of that is a matter of where the proverbial chair is -- Starbucks -- but part of it too is that the tangible stuff is tangible. I can assemble it, hold it, look at it. I can put it up on my shop and look at that. I can get buttons with my art on them in the mail and then hug that parcel because I'm proud of it.

Writing is slow. So slow. The doing is slow, the revising is slow, the path to a thing I can hold is slow. The payoff is different -- a necklace I can sell for $20-30 and make more back from that than I ever would for a traditionally published paperback, or a sale on an ebook -- more "real" somehow.

It's easier to justify my choices to people with the shop. Oh sure, the Skunkworks has only been live for about a month, and I've sold nothing, but I can point and say, "Here. Here is evidence of my effort. I'm not lazy. I'm working."

Possibly it doesn't help that my current writing project is wholly unsalable -- it's fan work, drawing on properties that are Very Fucking Owned By Other People -- and the parts of me that aren't good at being okay with impractical things want to devalue that, or feel like it's not valuable to the people with whom I live (and therefore owe money to), and that it is therefore Wrong. Like, where do I get off calling myself a writer when I'm just some dude who makes jewelry in his friend's basement between bouts of churning out wish-fulfillment slash?

And honestly, the only useful answer to that is a resounding Fuck Off.

Creativity is creativity. My job is to keep working, keep grinding even when I feel like an impostor, and do the work of figuring out how much of what work needs doing, both in the fiscal sense and the sense of keeping my artistic fire burning. The part-time gig doesn't take ALL the financial pressure off, but as I get more into the groove of doing creative work that should fill in the gaps via Etsy and Patreon, my real job becomes the work of keeping on, and refusing to let those internal voices let me feel like an impostor.

Nobody has to like what I'm working on, or think it's worthwhile for me to be a real writer or a real artist. I just have to do the thing. That's it.

And that? I can do.

(Even if I should probably get over the anxiety/procrastination thing with the writing.)