Excerpt from an essay for The Financial Diet:
It took a few more years for me to realize that I didn’t want to be an actress after all, but the idea that I might be a forever waitress began to haunt me. In writing programs, the teachers are much more pragmatic about the need for a day job. It’s practically drilled into your head that your writing will probably not sustain you on its own, and the likelihood that you will be the next J.K. Rowling is laughably slim. However, that early mindset of never having a Plan B as the key to success is firmly rooted enough that I still struggle with the sneaking suspicion that having my barista job at all means I’ve somehow given up before I have even started.
The fact of the matter is, I have to have a day job. I’m lucky that my partner is willing to help me out, and my parents also help when they can, but for the most part, I have to pay my bills. I’m paying off student loans, and I live in one of the most expensive rental markets in the U.S. Most of the time I don’t mind being a barista. Many of the regulars that come in are friendly, smart and interesting. But every once in a while, I encounter someone who thinks I’m dumb because I work at a coffee shop (I’m looking at you, Adam who spelled his name for me — Adam is literally the first name ever. I know how to spell Adam!). In those moments, I remind myself that a lot of successful authors I’ve admired have had a variety of weird, low-paying jobs. Elizabeth Gilbert has talked about waitressing up until she went on her book tour for Eat, Pray, Love. In an interview with Luc Berthlette, she says “I […] advise against the goal of having your artistic work support your life, financially. Of course this is the dream of dreams — to make a living by your art — but it is a rare thing, when that works out.” She speaks to the need for writers to separate their work from their job. Their work being the writing, and their job being the thing that pays the bills.
Read the complete essay here.