I came across a thoughtful and thought-provoking blog on my WordPress reader today, courtesy of Kristen Lamb. No doubt some of you subscribe to her blog. Today’s post is a continuation of her series on what she calls the “Enemy of the Art,” the negative traits that stifle our creativity, and get in the way of our successes. Part 6 explored “The Land of Good Enough.” In her post, she describes the Land of Good Enough as “the realm of paycheck-to-paycheck living, dead end jobs that suck away our souls, routine, safety and predictability. It’s a place where we settle when we are too scared to step onto our sacred path and dare to see if we have what it takes to be a real artist.”
I’m one of those that unfortunately has to live in the Land of Good Enough. What I do for a living, I do quite well, and it pays very well. I work in Information Technology, as a project manager. The work I do can be pretty stressful, having to deal with lots of moving parts, deadlines that never quite seem to be able to be reached, egos galore, and the very real possibility that your project is going to be abruptly cancelled at any second. The work involves long hours, but on the flip side I do get to work from home. The truth is, I don’t love the work I do, but, like James Bond, I may not have a zest for the job, but I take pride in doing the job right. Unlike James Bond, I don’t drive an Aston Martin or woo beautiful women or kill baddies with awesome gadgets or drink vodka martinis by the dozen. Alas.
I used to whine about how my work would interfere with my creative side. That is, until a friend of mine reminded me that I don’t need to love my job, but I do need to love my creative side, no matter what. I used to let my job interfere with my creative side. I would get depressed and cranky about not being able to write, or express myself. Not anymore.
By hook or by crook, I’m getting my novel finished. I am making the time, not in fits and spurts, but through discipline. In certain hours of the day, I get writing accomplished. Believe it or not, there are down times during my work day. Rather than goof off online, and catch up on whatever gossip is floating around the Internet – and, besides, I don’t do Facebook anymore – I write. I edit. I blog. I get my writing done. I don’t aspire to write. I am a writer.
I’m not dumb enough to think once my novel gets published, I’m going to quit my job and start living off the massive royalty checks that are going to roll in every month. The only check I’m going to be getting is a massive reality check. Not to mention if I did suddenly up and quit my job, my wife would hand me divorce papers quicker than a redneck sheriff handing someone a beatdown because someone didn’t respect their autho-ra-tay.
But you bet your damn ass I want to make a living as a writer. A comfortable living, at that. I don’t aspire, or harbor any notions, of living the high life of novelists like James Patterson. Heaven fucking forbid. Besides, I plan on earning my wages…ZING! But I know what I’ll earn as a writer may very well never match, on a year-to-year basis, what I earn as a project manager. Maybe it will, I don’t know.
It’s easy to adopt a Tyler Durden-esque mentality, and reject the things that right now own you, but reality is a cruel mistress. I have a mortgage, one which I’m unfortunately under water with. A car payment to make. My daughter’s kindergarten tuition. Not to mention all the other debts and essentials. I have to live in that world in order to pay my dues, which in turn gives me the tools I need to express my creativity. Some would call this entrapment, but I think it’s a compromise, and I’m willing to make that compromise. Life sometimes is about making compromises you don’t really want to make, but sometimes have to.
But I don’t buy into the notion that somehow, in order to truly become a real artist, you have to find a way to escape from the Land of Good Enough. There’s some truth, and I do mean some truth to that, but being a real artist means being true to yourself, regardless of what it is you do that pays the bills.
The point is, whether you live in the Land of Good Enough, or you’re fortunate to have broken free from such a place, nothing, and I mean nothing, should ever stifle your creativity. Whether you toil as an accountant or toil as a copy editor, what you do to express your creative side should never take a back seat to the things you own, or the things that own you. Regardless of the fact that I work a demanding job, and I have responsibilities to adhere to, I’m not losing sight of my writing ambitions. Not one bit.
And to give a ton of credit where credit is due, I think Kristen Lamb makes a valid and extremely passionate argument for not living in the Land of Good Enough. We only have ourselves to blame if we continue to live comfortably in the Land of Good Enough. Because complacency is the enemy of creativity, and my job here is to fight the never ending fight against complacency.
Many thanks to Kristen Lamb for her wonderful blog. Do check out her blog; it’s a thoughtful, insightful and inspiring read.