Basically, I’m making full-time money, even after self-employment taxes.
I’m… honestly not sure what to feel after years of pursuing this goal. Fear, certainly: freelance income is never assured, and I know more than most that the effort you put in only somewhat correlates to the money you earn. Numbness, because I sort of don’t believe it’s possible or is happening, after years of striving, and probably won’t until a few weeks into my new schedule. A kind of vibratory agitation that is equal parts ambition and terror, that I’m not making enough and I need to earn more to justify the money I’m giving up with the second job.
That eerie sensation that a wind is blowing through you and taking with it something that was weighing you down.
I am so very grateful. Not just for having reached this point, but for the decades I spent working toward it. I have had a lot of day jobs in my life, and from them learned so much: about people, about processes, about myself. They forced me to navigate social expectations and situations, and figure out how to work with other people… which in turn revealed just how interesting people are. They taught me grim endurance, and frugality, and prudence, and made sure I understood that passion for your work is not enough to fuel an artist: you have to have life experiences, as many and as varied and—yes—as unwelcome as possible. And when parenthood arrived and crushed my free time into a singularity, I learned to pare my need to make to its barest essentials, and how to keep that fire burning with tools and strategies I would never have willingly learned or tried.
I can’t understate how huge that lesson was. To go through all my activities and ruthlessly discard them until I got to a single thing I could do, and then learn to do that as well and as quickly as possible in the time I had. And the fact that parenthood was the impetus for that process was the greatest blessing of all, because nothing in me can resent becoming a mother. I might have flailed and whined about the compression of my free time, but if someone had said ‘would you give up parenthood for more time, leisure, and money’ the answer would have been, and will always be, an unqualified, resounding “NEVER.”
That leaves me where I am now. At last, I am getting time back… around 900 hours a year! And I am that artist who knows how to create a tremendous amount of work in far less time. Because my life made it imperative that I stop dabbling and focus in the face of every distraction, from exhausting commutes to interminable nights spent hovering by a crib. To streamline everything, even if it meant jettisoning painting, and research, and experimentation, and crafting. To make what I do function as a business, instead of something I thought would eventually magically make money if I could just get people to like me.
The thought that I now have the luxury of deciding if and how I will add those discarded things back…
I’m not planning anything yet, because I still have about two months to go, and wow, is Day Hobby making up for it by being especially annoying and time-consuming. But even that feels like a gift. Like I’ve been given time to daydream what I would do if I won the lottery, but with the amazing joy of knowing that I have.
None of it would have been possible had I not put in the years of compromise. I wouldn’t have been ready.
I think I’m finally ready now.
Of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without thanking you all. Some of you have been with me for decades; some of you are new. All of you matter. Even those of you who give me a dollar and wander off again because I’m not your cup of tea. I assure you, I did something good with that dollar, and even more good with the knowledge that someone choose to give it.
So in summer, we’re gonna go on a new adventure together! More stories? More art! More everything! I can’t wait to see what it’s like to be a full-time artist/writer at last, but I predict we’re going to have a lot of fun. Stay tuned… and thank you for coming on this ride with me. <3
Let the countdown COMMENCE!