The Artist as Batman

Like most of you, I have a day job. I happen to work at a pharmaceutical telemarketing group from 8:30 to 5, not using my degree in media study whatsoever. Maybe I’m using a little bit of my anthropology minor when dealing with a bazillion unpleasant receptionists (however, the cross-cultural appearance of generic job dissatisfaction in a particular segment of the working population is not very interesting compared to, say, studying the enduring universal phenomenon of “witchcraft hysteria.” :p).

But at the end of the day, I do not call myself a marketing rep. By now, I hope you’ve figured out that I consider myself to be a writer. Oh, I am much more than that–a daughter, wife, friend, sister, traveler, mediocre ukulele player, etc.–but this isn’t that kind of blog post.

I have to assume that most of you who bother to read this blog are also writers or creators of some kind (artists, if you’re comfortable with that word). Many of you also work a full time job, be it at an office or in the home raising children. I’m willing to bet, whatever you do from “9-5” (your hours may vary) that it is not necessarily your art/creative pursuit. But I bet you wish it was. I bet you hope that, someday, the after-hours effort you put into your creative pursuits can become your day job.

Or maybe you don’t. But if you do, you probably know all about the emotional roller coaster of being an artist by night: the pain of “wasting” your days for a paycheck, especially if your day job is in a field you have no love for; the stress of finding the time and energy to do your real work after all your other responsibilities have been met; the guilt of choosing sleep or laundry or making a healthy dinner, over putting in time with your art.

Pictured: a mild-mannered artist by night.

Being an artist by night is not unlike being Batman: most of the people you interact with on a daily basis have a poor understanding of the person you become after work, with a pen/paint brush/instrument in hand; you have your passion, your conviction, your determination– maybe even a utility belt full of handy tools that help you on your quests; you have a whole second life that you live, fighting crime/writer’s block, surveilling Gotham City from your Bat Cave/studio/laptop. There are plenty of criminals/plot bunnies/inspiration droughts out to get you, and the good people of the city/your family and friends don’t necessarily agree with what you’re doing, or believe you have the right to do what you do.

So how do you do it?

This is something I am always trying to figure out. I am constantly re-balancing my schedule, my life, always trying to find a better way of organizing myself and using my time so that nothing gets left behind. Something always does, of course. Something probably always will, even after my writing becomes my day job (fingers crossed!). But I’ve learned to love this state of constant upheaval. To me, it feels like passion–like life force being summoned through me. I am not an advocate of difficulty for the sake of difficulty, but there is some degree of personal validation (or perhaps confirmation) when you see how hard you are willing to work for something. And I believe the key to surviving the upheapal is found in that passion, and the life-affirming  joy of the art itself. After all, if we didn’t love our art, why would we be willing to put up with it’s bullshit? (just sayin’.)

What about you? How do you make the time for your art/crime-fighting after a long day of work? Do you find that you often end up alone, like Batman, with no one but your trusty butler/take out menus to keep you company? How do you take care of your relationships, your friends, family, pets–yourself even–and still make time for your art?

Inquiring minds want to know!