You should sell that

I’ve been reading Etsy’s “Quit Your Day Job” series since my senior year of college. Although I didn’t have a full-time job, something about the mystery of the “alternative” career path held my attention. I graduated in 2009 with the inaugural class of recession babies, and like many in my cohort, I went to grad school with the hope of staying out of the tanking job market for just a few more years. I wasn’t exactly sure where my studies would take me, or how I’d make a living after another round of coursework, but I was fascinated, albeit terrified, by the upheaval that seemed to be taking place in the hierarchy of professions. While many were devastated by layoffs and cutbacks, it seemed that every corner of the internet was highlighting another creative entrepreneur who had left her “safe” day job to make a living through her art.

As jobs that had once been considered stable became obsolete, creative professions and other more “risky” pursuits were being thrust into the spotlight. What once seemed risky came to be viewed as self-sufficient, as less traditional paths began to redefine success and professional freedom.

Part of why I’m obsessed with reading all of those quit-your-day-job stories and interviews with full-time bloggers and creative professionals, is not that I want to do what they do, necessarily, but rather that their trailblazing inspires a bit of confidence in my own choices as I find my way in a new professional landscape.

One of the downsides of the greater visibility of creative professions, however, is the “You should sell that” mentality, otherwise known as the death of the hobby. It’s the idea that every handmade gift or creative passion is the seed for a money-making venture. It’s the sense that your art is not legitimate if you’re not selling it, or that you’re not a real writer if you don’t make a living through your writing.

For my own part, I admire those who make a living through their art, as well as those who are creating beyond business hours. There are as many ways to practice creativity as there are creators, and I think it’s so important to honor them all. As I juggle multiple roles, all under the umbrella of words-on-paper and words-on-screen, I am especially inspired by those whose creative integrity infuses all of their work, whether it takes place in an office or a studio, whether for love, leisure, or livelihood.