Over the holidays I have been considering different potential sources of income, and how they might work together to make a reasonable living. Until this year I have always worked in permanent positions with set hours and a lot of built in benefits. This model has the advantage of being fairly secure, in so far as you don’t need to keep revisiting the question of where the work is going to come from. Its efficient because you know when you need to be at work and how much you will be paid. The nature of the work you need to be doing is provided for you by your employer. The downside of this type of job is the lack of flexibility and autonomy.
I have been thinking about other models where work comes from a variety of sources, in the form of a number of smaller jobs negotiated separately, or even from a variety of different types of work. I am already working on establishing a professional organising business, but this will take time to build up, and there is going to be free time around that where I could be working on other income generating projects. Apart from the uncertainty of the work flow in that business, I think the intensity of that work would benefit by being balanced out by other types of activities. I have been thinking about doing some consulting work, and I am now also considering the potential role of writing and photography as possible income sources.
There are many professions which have a high degree of flexibility in the way that time is allocated. My Dad was a minister, and thats one profession where the boundaries between personal and professional life and time can be very fluid. My Dad worked on Sunday mornings, and taught scripture in school term time, but was often free to take us to school or pick us up in the afternoon. In a job like that, work could be any day of the week, or any time of the day, depending on what was going on. I also had the idea that my Dad worked for God, and thats a hard act to follow. As a young person the concept of work was linked with vocation and spirituality and not having that type of link in my own work has led to a feeling that something was missing.
Creative people who make a living from selling their work also have a lot of flexibility about when they work. I am making a wild assumption here, but I am betting Picasso didn’t feel concerned about the lack of structure resulting from not having a day job. Professional artists seem to have a very fluid lifestyle in which work can be at any hour of the day, when inspiration strikes. The image of the starving artist conveys the sense that for some people the drive to live out the creative process is more important than earning a steady income. Of course in some cases, devotion to their art was to the detriment of family life, health, and everything else. Nevertheless, its not necessary to be absolutely obsessed to make an income from creativity.
So this is where I am. In the quiet space between Christmas and New Year I am wondering about the possibilities of different ways of earning an income that offer greater flexibility and autonomy. Wondering what that life would feel like if I made living as a creative being a permanent priority.