Art of the Song

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Art of the Song

Should I Quit My Day Job to Pursue My Creative Work?

By Eileen Kalinowski | Posted June 1, 2007 | Updated November 14, 2019

I can't tell you how often I've asked myself this question, this seemingly reasonable, adult-type question that touches on the important issues of responsibility, financial security, the creative energy necessary to sustain a worthy work, but which also lends itself to questions about whether the work is really worthy, or would be worthy, if I had the time to fully devote to my creativity.

But wait, how grandiose, how outrageous! Make a living by my art, indeed! Who do I think I am?

The day job can either seem like the reason I don't write, my true enemy, or the only way for me to live and survive. And there is no middle ground, because working uses up vital creative juices, I come home exhausted, guilty of selling out, and then only have time for the question, Should I quit my day job?

So it's with great relief that I share with you a newfound freedom. The answer has nothing to do with quitting my day job or not. The real question is, Eileen, will you write today?

I like financial security; I like being able to pay my mortgage. The terror of creditors calling my house at 7:30 on a Saturday morning when I was trying to be a singer/songwriter/single mom/newly divorced temporary secretary was horrifying. There was no joy in those years, and it wasn't a lack of willingness to sacrifice comfort for my art. It was because worrying about when I'd have the money for bread and peanut butter for my daughter's lunch froze me in fear.

If I were truly gifted or really had something to say, I would just starve and say it. Right?

I'm here to tell you that I don't believe any of that anymore.

I write; sometimes ten minutes, sometimes 30 minutes, sometimes for an hour at a time. I'm happier when I do; I hope to keep writing for as long as I draw breath. I also am happy to have a job with benefits. I don't have to choose one or the other.

This question, when it arises now, needs to be immediately replaced with the more telling one: How will I make time to write today?

©2007 Eileen Kalinowski. All rights reserved.

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Eileen KalinowskiEileen Kalinowski sings, produces music, freelance writes, and is a member of the Taos Coalition to End Homelessness. ...