In a recent deep dive into the “Art Business” file on my computer I came across a Word document that I’d created in 2008. At the time I’d been trying to convince myself that leaving a perfectly decent job to direct all my focus and attention on my art career wasn’t a completely crazy idea.
The document – titled “18 hours” (the number of hours I generally worked each week in my auxiliary arts admin job) – compares the income I was grossing to an alternate reality of making that same income solely from my creative practice.
NERD ALERT: First I broke down my on-paper net hourly wage so that I could see what my gross hourly wage was. This made me feel less slightly less irresponsible for wanting to ditch my job because I wasn’t leaving a $25.00/hr job, but a $17.18/hr job.
Then I broke down my annual income goal of $22,400.00 into various attainable scenarios. Seeing a larger number re-contextualized as being merely two hundred and twenty-four $100.00 items, or one hundred and twelve $200.00 items, or sixty $400.00 items, made the lump sum much less overwhelming. Reviewing the options gave me the courage to believe that it was possible, in theory, to support myself off my craft.
I did indeed quit my job, but instead of being able to test out my theory, a combination of self-sabotaging decisions had me working for others again in a few short months. A few years later, when the opportunity came for me to once again try my hand at being a full-time artist, I had shifted my focus to exhibiting my work, rather than selling it. This was due, in part, to my pieces becoming more labor-intensive (and therefore less practical to sell), and finding myself in a benevolent situation where I didn’t HAVE to support myself through my practice (gratitude every day).
Although I never acted on my “18 hours” plan, coming across this document now is so timely.
Lately I’ve been feeling caged in, both literally and figuratively. I’m stuck in my old way of trying to move forward in a culture where the reality has shifted. Clinging has left me functioning in a vacuum, all my mojo and desire to create being slowly sucked out by a deep Dementor’s kiss.
This former document of mine is a practical reminder that there is more than one route to a destination – in fact, there are several.
I’m not quite nerdy enough to break down the actual number of different combinations my “alternate reality” chart could result in, but I’m sure it would be in the thousands. That’s comforting, isn’t it? Knowing that there are so many paths you could take to reach your goal?
Imprisoned in pandemic-reality-where-the-number-of-options-seems-to-have-shrunk is just one reality. It can be hard to remember that these days.
I feel like I need a goal that focuses on process instead of product. Internal growth versus external accomplishment. An immersion into experiment over stressing about adding a line to my CV. It may be time for an updated alternate reality chart.
A “return-to-flow” chart, if you will.
Do you feel stuck in your current reality? What would your “return-to-flow” chart look like?