I asked FB…


As I’m considering hopping off the 9-5 bandwagon and leaning towards making my art/facilitation/producing/teaching/curating prowess the center of my world, fear came for my life!  So, in my attempt to calm my nerves I asked some of the folks out there who do this on a regular basis.

The response was inspiring:

My mentor told me if it is my job, I need to be working at it full-time and sometimes overtime.” -Amber Flame, Oakland Poetry Slam Slammaster

In corporate world no one cares what you have going on internally. They will work you to death if you let them. I took a break (with the very generous financial support of friends and family) then decided I never wanted to feel that way again.” -Briq House, Founder and Producer of the Sunday Night Suga Shaq

I’m only able to make this lifestyle sustainable by full understanding my financial and emotional needs and making sure they come first.” -Jehan Osanyin, Founder of Earthseed

The stories that emerged were heartfelt and hilarious:

I was working at a Wells Fargo in my mid-twenties (2005-ish) and Mahogany L. Browne was here in Seattle on tour. I asked about touring and expressed something similar to the question you’re asking here. She said this to me – ‘how many hours a week do you spend writing/teaching poetry?’ My answer then was about 10-15, then she asked ‘how many hours a week you work at that bank’ my answer was well…40. She looked me dead in the eye serious and said ‘so you’re a banker, not a poet’ That was it for me.” –Matt Gano, Co-Founder of the Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Program

Some remembered what it felt like to work the 9-5 grind:

My day job was killing me. It stood in complete contrast to my artistic and poetic and even my ethical self.” -Bryan Borland, Editor of Sibling Rivalry Press

Others were practical and you know artists need practical steps sometimes:

when you take that leap you have a pot of money to cushion you.” -J. Mase, Founder of awQwerd

I suggest a financial transitionary period. If you have regular income, KEEP IT COMING. It’s tough to be creative when you don’t know where your next paycheck is coming from.“-Cecily Schular, Union Square Slam Slammaster

No matter the advice, it all came down to three things:

  1. Trust your gut.
  2. Have a plan.
  3. JUST DO IT.

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