Songs for the Struggling Artist

Day Jobs
October 12, 2008, 3:45 am
Filed under: business, Entries with songs attached | Tags: , , ,

A Day Job.

I need a new one. For most of the time I’ve lived in New York, I’ve worked as a teaching artist. When I first got started, it was the best day job in the world. It was in my field. It helped me clarify my art. It felt like I was doing something for the greater good. And even though the work was inconsistent, it paid pretty well. I got to the top of the food chain pretty quickly.

Then I got burned out – too many restrictions, too much unpredictability and a sense of frustration about the state of public education all added up. So I left New York, went to graduate school and got an MFA. When I came back to New York in February, I was a bit refreshed and picked up a few of my old gigs just where I left off. I had some good residencies and some lousy ones. When I taught my last last class of the school year in June, perhaps the best residency/class I’ve ever taught, I thought, “That was it. That was my last class.”

Then, all my schemes and dreams to make my life overseas work sort of fell apart (see my earlier post, “The Tyranny of a Dream” for more) so I came back to New York, fully prepared to dive back into teaching. But life seems to have other plans for me. Despite the lovely feedback I got last semester for my work, no one has ANY work for me this fall. Not one class. I don’t know whether this is because of the recession or because I fell to the bottom of the totem pole when I left New York in 2005 or because I was out of the country for most of September, but whatever the reason, I’ve got nothing. Not one stitch of work. Problem is, I can’t think of anything else I’m fit for, besides the stuff that I can actually do that I need the day job to support. And the only breaks I’ve gotten since I’ve gotten back are in ACTING of all things.

In the amazing book, Creating a Life Worth Living, Carol Lloyd offers a really fantastic practice for finding the right day job for your artistic soul. I spent a long time with that chapter and now have long lists of ideas for qualities I’d like in a day job and a long list of skills. Yet, when I look at the two together, I can not for the life of me figure out where they meet. When I talked this all over with my career counselor a few months ago and sent her the lists, she couldn’t come up with anything either. In fact, the first thing she said was , “Have you considered Arts in Education?”

I’m trying to live my life with more FLOW these days, trying to break my pattern of swimming upstream but I can’t even figure out where the river is with these issues. Every line I cast into the water just hangs there, so I keep casting lines with not even the vaguest idea of whether it makes sense to do so.

I’m looking for flow. I’m looking for the path of least resistance, I guess they call it, but I’m mostly just running in circles at the moment. Or to fling yet another metaphor around, treading water, wondering which direction I should swim in.

Any suggestions? I’m considering everything.

Here’s a song about how I’m trying to live my life these days. Listen to: water river stone


1 Comment so far
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i feel your struggle! have you thought about non-profit work? the money is always a challenge, but i’m a non-profit, activist, volunteer junkie. despite the struggle, i never really feel like i’m selling out. oh, and i like your song.

Comment by t-love-pdx

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