Since moving to Oakland Township, PA in December 2022 I’ve been in the extremely privileged position of not having to pay rent or work for a living, as we’re living with my partner’s parents. It’s astounding. For the first time in my life, I don’t have to work to survive before I can start thinking about the things I want to do to thrive.
I have time to write, to work in depth on my solo show, to read, to exercise, to just be. I suddenly find myself able to take the time I need to be creative and do all the admin required to allow that to happen (emails happen in every line of work, I’m afraid). Chris and I can systematically figure out which improv festivals we want to apply to, and when we need to get things ready for them. We can diarise deadlines, take time to prioritise workloads, update our websites, and use social media with purpose, rather than only when we remember.
So, this blog is really aimed at other artists who have found themselves unable to get things done that they want to do, because they’re spending so much time doing what they have to do to survive. You’re not wrong when you think “if only I had more time…” IT IS SO MUCH EASIER WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT MONEY OR SURVIVAL WORK.
Turns out, we don’t all have the same 24 hours in a day. If you spend 9 hours working a gruelling temp job, and commute for 2 hours a day that leaves you with 13 hours to eat, sleep, and maybe even have a little bit of time to yourself before you do it all over again. And again. And again. And again. When I was trying to figure out auditioning, networking, classes, shows, and everything else alongside a 40- or 50-hour work week, I was constantly exhausted, and beating myself up because I felt like a failure compared to friends in the industry who were “making it”. Looking back, I realise that 99.9% of the people I saw as “doing really well” in their careers were either living with parents or carers or financially dependent on someone else. They weren’t making it the same way I was.
Before I came out to the USA, I had a massive meltdown over the phone to Chris. I was terrified that if I came out here and had three months of solid time to do whatever I wanted, I might realise that I was actually lazy and/or not very talented. That I’d get here and not have any idea what to do with the time I’d been gifted. I couldn’t have been more wrong. My show is in the best shape it’s ever been in, I’m getting consistent work done, and spending time doing things I enjoy. I feel contented and fulfilled and I know that I’m making good progress with the work I want to get done.
This is unlikely to be news to most people reading this. But if you, like I was (and probably will be again) are someone who has to make a living before they make art, just know that you’re running a race in lead shoes. It’s OK to acknowledge that this is harder for you. And if you’re one of the lucky buggers who comes from means, maybe be honest about that? Privilege isn’t a dirty word, so stop pretending to be a “broke artist” when someone else is paying for you to cosplay poverty. It’s time to retire the myth of the starving artist.