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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Your Art


Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Oversharing with Kristin. I am your host, Kristin!

*hold for applause*

So. During the week of Thanksgiving, I lost my job. My employment was terminated. I was kicked to the curb. I got fired.

And it sucked.

Granted, this was not a great job. I worked at a pub, serving beer and burgers to drunk college students, and cleaning up vomit when they all went home. But the quality of my job was not very important to me, because it paid my bills and bought me grocery and occasionally there was enough left over for me to see a movie. And because my job did all those things, I convinced myself I was happy with it.

I called my mom to tell her the news. She admitted later that, when I said I'd been fired, there were two thoughts that ran through her head simultaneously: "oh dear" and "thank God."

When I asked about the "thank God" response, she said simply, "Now you can write."

Because, if I was honest with myself, I hadn't been writing. I'd been working full time, going to bed late, waking up early, drinking lots of beer, scrubbing lots of toilets, eating lots of greasy pub food... but I definitely hadn't been writing. My job was exhausting, physically and emotionally and creatively; at the end of the day, I didn't have the energy for anything but tv and naps.

There were few weeks, before I lost my job, when I looked into freelance writing; but I decided to stick with waiting tables, because that was what I knew. I was afraid to try - afraid to fail - so I stuck with work that was safe even though it made me unhappy.

And that was why my mother was thanking God when the pub cut me loose.

Shortly after being fired, I started freelance writing. I don't come home with pockets full of tip money anymore; but I finally have time to work on my manuscript, to do a job that I love and find fulfilling. I have time to see my family on weekends. I've been to all my sister's college plays. I'm painting and drawing and creating again.

And I realized that losing a job is nothing compared to losing your joy.

My point in telling this story is to encourage you. There was nothing wrong with my restaurant job; there is nothing wrong with being an accountant, or a teacher, or a CEO, or a janitor... unless those jobs are taking more than they are giving. If they are killing your creativity, your joy, your sense of self, your energy, your family, your friends... I don't believe it's worth it.

We have to make time for our dreams. We have to relentlessly pursue our passion and our art, despite the obstacles that come our way. And yes, sometimes we have to work that crappy job; sometimes we don't have the privilege of quitting and starting from scratch. But we can set the alarm, wake up an hour before work, and write. We can carve thirty minutes from our lunch our to scratch notes on a post-it pad. We can start the morning with loud music and open windows and wild dancing. We can finger paint. We can learn an instrument, even if we learn it badly.

Please take care of your soul. Fight for it. The world will try to kill it, try to reduce you to a machine. Don't let it. Do what you must in order to let your heart thrive. Do scary things; do hard things. Do things that don't make sense to anyone else. It's okay. It'll be worth it, in the long run.

Also - virtual drinks, on me. Because I can't serve you real beer anymore.

(p.s. i discovered these great articles along with that great "dream job" picture. they're all about how to purse your passions, even when you're working at pubs and stuff. and although it's not geared toward writers and artists, it's worth a read.)
Kristin Briana Otts

Kristin is an aspiring YA author with an abiding love for her dog, ghost hunter tv shows, and rainy days.

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  1. Thank you so much for posting that. I crave my writing, and my job (which I really like) is sucking me in. I finally have a little free time and I am so excited to just be with my book.

  2. Your words are so spot on true! I think the most hard-hitting line for me was when you said losing a job is not as bad as losing your dream. I also recently lost my job, and have been freed to write since. It is scary at first, but then you realize it gives you the freedom to pursue what you really want to in life.

  3. I couldn't agree more. I took a job as a nanny working three extra-long days so I could write more (during naps and days off). Friends and family keep asking why I'm not using my degree and making the big bucks. Ironically, I'm happier now and all of them are drained and frustrated. I hope you find what works to make you fulfilled and happy!

    1. That's awesome! It's strange how sometimes the jobs we don't expect to be wonderful and fulfilling... actually are. :) I love those kinds of surprises.

  4. This is such a timely post for me... I'm about to take the big plunge myself to get away from a soul sucking job. Thanks so much! And congrats on following your dream!

  5. Such a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Years ago I knew someone who was bitter and angry all the time because his job demanded so much of his time. One day he woke up and made a change. He realized that it was his choice whether to stay in that job or find something else. He chose to stay in the job for many reasons. But once he recognized that it was his choice, he was no longer bitter and angry. He became happy, even though his schedule did not change.

    I strive for balance. Work, family, home, volunteering, writing, and exercise all take time. Yet they're all important, and it's impossible to give each the amount of time I'd like. So I am constantly balancing them all.

    It works for me. I hope you find financial success to go along with your emotional success. I'd say you're in a very healthy place, and I hope you get to stay there!

  7. When I was on maternity leave for 3 months, I was able to get so much writing done. It stinks that I have to go back to work and now do the balancing act, but I do have a good job and it doesn't stress me out. One day I'll be able to write full time.

  8. This actually relates to me on a bit more of an academic level... I spent four years of college bopping back and forth from major to major in an attempt to find my passion, and didn't realize that I had it all along until I already had a degree in something else. It's been crazy trying to balance the job and the passion, but this (and the other two articles you linked to) are inspiring me to dedicate more time to writing! The day job will fall into place from there.

    1. I don't know, sometimes I wish I would've gotten a degree in something besides writing. It kind of lets you separate what you love from what pays the bills, you know? And I realize I just spent a whole blog post arguing against doing a job just because it pays the bills... but sometimes there's a lot of value in separating professional stuff from artistic stuff. :)

  9. I so get this!
    It's really important to find a day job that doesn't take over your soul (and uses it as a doormat). It's hard, but worth the trouble finding one that doesn't make you forget or put aside your passion and dreams.

  10. I loved this so much, and I shared the paragraph starting with, "Please take care of your soul..." with a lovely group of women I knew would appreciate it. (I gave you full credit and directed them here!)

    Even though they are not in the process of creating a novel, they are in the process of living their dreams, and I think they needed to hear it.

    Thank you for writing this!

  11. "I realized that losing a job is nothing compared to losing your joy."

    "Please take care of your soul. Fight for it."

    Oh wow, yes yes yes! Such a great post, thank you. We needed this. We always need this.

    (Small point: we don't think the world is trying to KILL anyone's soul. But it isn't going out of its way to help, either. In fact, the world is kind of soul-indifferent. So it's up to us to take care of our own, as you suggest.)


    1. True, I think maybe the world is just kind of...apathetic about "the soul"? Like, employment and real life and government kind of tell us that we need to do what has to be done, rather than encouraging us to do what makes us come alive. And I think we need to find a happy medium between those two.

  12. Great post! I've been out of work for longer than I would like. Sadly looking for a job and worrying about how to pay the bills has its own set of stress related issues that can kill one's writing. Recently I've had to take a good look at my schedule and make sure I've set aside time for myself and my writing (w/o the guilt trip of "I should be looking for a job 24/7). I think your point to take care of one's soul is right on! Anything can suck our creativity away if we don't stay focused on our goals.

    1. This is very true! There have been pieces of this whole semi-employment business that has been just as stressful as a difficult job. I guess it all depends; choosing to take care of yourself can manifest in all sorts of different ways.


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Item Reviewed: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Your Art Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kristin Briana Otts