Romanticism In The Real World: Being Creative and The World Of Work


It’s true – I am too romantic and I am not talking in the love sense. I enjoy tales and images from the past and I cling onto them because the world I live in now doesn’t satisfy me, it overwhelms me. Saying that, the reality of a life I think I want to lead may not be that easy. What? I hear you say. Bear with me.

So, let me look at my perfect life. Well, I wouldn’t change much apart from my career. This isn’t to say I dislike my occupation but I know what I was born to do and that was – to write. Every day. Forevermore. I have thoughts of me draped in my usual finery, drinking tea, writing poetry and essays, picking flowers from the garden on my break and then celebrating my day with a glass of red wine or a bottle of my favourite ale. I warned you I was romantic. Some people do have this lifestyle and others still have jobs. Some are lucky enough to have financial support. Not me. Not yet.

I had educational debts and my only option when finishing university was to get a job and quick. I had no career advice and I had no life advice. I had to earn money doing whatever I could find. This is where I became unstuck. I am forever going over it in my head about what I should have done when I left university. Part of me thinks I should have pre-planned everything and gone for my dream but the other knows that paying the rent is probably more important. I lived away from my family, it wasn’t like I could live with my parents and have a good paid job – that just wasn’t an option. I panicked.

Nearly 16 years on I have written for the majority of that time and have been published but not on a grand scale like JK Rowling. Being published is a huge achievement but some people don’t take it very seriously. If it doesn’t get you fame and fortune then you are doing something wrong. No, my friend, we are not wrong. We are artists. We create. The sad thing is that I often hear people say a lot of negative things about writers and artists and how they live their creative lives. Here are some of things I hear regularly:

“If you aren’t published then you have obviously failed as a writer”

“You don’t make money from your art? What’s the point then?”

“Why don’t you just quit this writing lark and concentrate on getting a proper career?”

All of the above is wrong. It is cruel. Judgmental. Utter rubbish. These come from the mouths of people who are either jealous of your zest for creativity or they grew up in a different generation. Their way of life is as follows: you are born, you go to school, get a job, get married, procreate and then you die. That is it for them. This is not for you or for me. If you don’t want to get married, don’t. If you don’t want children, don’t. If you want to join the circus, do it. Your life is yours and unless you are doing something criminally or fundamentally wrong then I think the opinions of others shouldn’t matter to you. If you are happy then your friends and family should be too despite their opinions.

This brings me to work. If you are, like me, a full-time employee and a writer then you can do this, I promise. It has taken me a long time but through my study of creativity I have come to the conclusion that if you really want it and you have good organizational skills then you can have the best of both worlds. There are two ways of looking at this situation. The first is that you desperately want to be an artist full-time. This takes time and dedication and also a bit of luck that the right person will see your work. Getting seen cannot earn you millions straight away so some artists have kept their jobs whilst creating with the end goal of doing it full-time. Or you could go for the second option and have your full-time job and create anyway with no end goal – just live a creative life for yourself and see what it brings you. This can include submitting to galleries or publishing houses along the way but with this option you need to enjoy it more than just thinking about the end goal. Believe me – if you try the bohemian romantic part of being creative you might end up very hungry and very homeless or you may not of course – who knows what is written in the stars. It is what suits you and what options you have in life. If it means getting up an hour earlier, working on your lunch break, on your commute or staying up later…if you want it then you will reach for it in any way you can. Let passion drive you, not money.

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