This morning, I had the great good fortune to run into a guy I used to work with at a previous job—he was a tailor then but has gone back to school for finance and will complete his master’s degree at the end of the summer. So he’s gone from making costume frock coats to making his own bespoke suits. This is ten different kinds of awesome.
We talked a little bit about the creative thing, and how tough it is to make a living off one’s creativity alone. Sure, there are people who make it work. There are notable Etsy success stories, for example, that are (economically) smaller counterpoints to the outlier successes everyone points to in given creative endeavors. But even moderately successful fiction writers need a day job or a partner’s second income to close the gap. And the fashion industry is highly competitive and still focused in specific geographic areas.
In my line of work, I’ve interviewed a lot of alumni, and I often talk to people who chased different interests for a while until one day it all clicked into the perfect job, and the skills or hobbies that seemed tangential at best became THE thing that made them the only person who could do that job. I know some people who are in the mode of chasing interests now, and it can be frustrating to love X, Y, and Z but only be able to make a living with A, B, and C. But sometimes A, B, and C can open up unexpected avenues in pursuit of X, Y, and Z.
This is about as woo-woo as I get: passion projects, if doggedly pursued, will one day become self-supporting enterprises. I believe that utterly, and it’s not because I have to in order to keep going with my own fiction (though it helps). Writing has always been a part of who I am: it’s my vocation. A calling. No matter how I’ve tried to make a living, I always end up surviving by the pen. One day, I may be able to support myself with my own work instead of an organization’s marketing materials. And one day, that tailor’s success in investing may hinge upon his knowledge of design.