do what you love but have a contingency plan
Pierre Bonnard, Fenêtre ouverte sur la Seine (Vernon), 1911–12
A question that people ask me a fair amount is: Should I quit my job to write? And I recently read this excellent post, which debates the merits of whether you should do what you love, and realized that it’s something I have a few opinions on.
Personally, I do not think that if you “do what you love the money will follow,” even though I guess in my case it’s proven to be somewhat true. I think that if you do what you love and you happen to be enormously lucky the money will follow. So it’s a very unreliable thing to bet on, especially if you’re like me, someone who has never been interested in suffering for my art. Maybe I’m not a true artist, because I’ve always been like, if I have to work as a lawyer for the rest of my life, that’s fine. I always planned on writing, but I planned on writing in my free time. For most of my teens, I really wanted to be a poet, so I always thought in terms of what job can I have that could enable me to sometimes write poetry, because I don’t think there are any successful poets who make a living off purely writing poetry. (There are probably like five in the world.) Also, I never wanted to be a journalist or a professor or any of the other professions where you can write and theoretically make a living. I always wanted to write exactly what I felt like writing and nothing else. (If I had known “personal blog” was an option, I would’ve been thrilled. I was an avid fan of all those 2007-era Livejournal blogs where girls waxed on about life, love, beauty, and breakups.)