When someone says “don’t quit your day job” it’s usually an insult. And now that I don’t have a day job, I wonder what response I would have if someone told me off like that.
I’d probably say: “Too late!”
But then I realized that actually I do have a “day job”. It may be in quotes now, but it’s true: what I’ve actually done is replace my day job with another, much more poorly paid and uncertain day job.
My day job is now looking for clients, and trying to finish work that I get in – be it doing shows, teaching workshops or writing or editing bits of writing. This stuff pays. And pretty well – when it happens. Or offers the possibility of immediate rewards.
But sometimes they’re not so fun, and sometimes they downright suck
However, the other part of my new day job is developing shows (I’ve got two new ones on the go, one written, one improvised), creating book and article proposals (a bunch in various stages of completion), writing grants, following ideas, meeting people, dreaming, seeking out inspiration, and more. And this stuff doesn’t pay. But they’re awesome.
And these things offer the potential to pay. Down the line. Plus, they now support more directly the day job stuff. By touring an improv show, or publishing some writing, it makes me more desirable to potential clients, and actually makes me better at that other day job stuff. More fundable, more likely to get booked, etc.
And the more I do, the better I get, and the better I understand what it is I want to be doing. So I’m more likely to get hired to do the kind of work I want to in the future. There’s development, an evolution going on there.
It’s encouraging to take a step back and see that the “day job” I have, and the other work I do (which is also often not during the day) are not disconnected, but rather they contribute to one another. And there will, to some extent, always be the need to have the day jobby type stuff to feed (in one way literally feed) the artistic.
Hugh MacLeod of Gaping Void call it the Sex and Cash theory, which is well worth checking out.