Write On Wednesday – How are you using your gig to protect your gift?

“We do what we have to do in order to do what we want to do.” ~ character, James L. Farmer, Jr., “The Great Debaters.”

Four months ago, I wrote an angst ridden, tongue-in-cheek blog post aptly titled, “Excuse Me…What Happened to My Log Cabin?”

In it, I complained about how I had been hoodwinked into believing that my life  as an author would be the stuff every writer dreams of. 

You see, I was throwing a tantrum.  That’s right, flailing my arms and stomping my feet, mad that my author dream (eerily reminiscent to my former Hollywood dream) was a sham. 

Oprah hadn’t chosen me for her book club. My novel wasn’t a New  York Times Best seller. And my Amazon.com payments were barely worth more than the free emails they sent every few months or so to alert me. 

Dag it! I couldn’t avoid reality anymore. I needed to get a job.  

And not just because I needed to eat, pay rent and buy new underwear. But because of something even more important — My muse was dying. 

O.K. , that was real flowery. What I had meant to say was I wasn’t writing anymore. 

I know.  I see you scratching your head. Every writer dreams of not having a job and having all of their free time to write. But I’ve learned that if my “free time” is constantly bombarded with bill collectors calling for money I don’t have, a funny thing happens – My muse, strangled by stress, suffocates and I.stop. writing. 

Now, I don’t know about you, but my muse and I go way back. And I’ll do anything to protect her. So if that means getting a gig, then damn it, I’ll bite the bullet and be responsible.

Creative and responsible, that is.

Travel back with me, if you will, to 2004. I was a freelancer then for the Director Guild of America’s Magazine and I had the opportunity to cover a panel that  episodic director/documentary filmmaker , Jessica Yu was featured on.

She spoke of working as a director for hire on shows such as “ER” and “West Wing” — a feat I was foaming at the mouth to do — but admitted that her true love was documentary filmmaking. 

In fact, she added, the only reason she really kept her well-paying day job was so that she could continue making documentaries, which paid nothing at all. 

I remember thinking at the time that she was crazy. Why would anyone prefer making boring documentaries that no one saw over being paid boat loads of money to direct episodes for the most popular television dramas of all time? 

Well, Fam, it’s taken eight years, but I finally understand where Jessica was coming from:

She was safeguarding her muse. Using her day gig to protect her gift. 

Wow. Here, I’ve been calling myself an authorpreneur, all the while not so secretly resenting that I have to do anything else, but write.

But my muse, like a child, needs to feel safe.

She can’t perform or thrive under pressure.

And it’s my challenge to create and employ my skills – whether it be for myself or others – to provide a safe place for her to stay and play. 🙂

Fam, how are you using your gig to protect your gift?


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