My Work: What I Do

Amy of Fannfare asked me a question recently in an e-mail, and I realized that I have had a lot of changes happen over the course of this winter that I haven't really talked about, so I thought I'd answer her question here.

tired after a day of design
This is what my tired head looks like after a full day
of doing what I do, but it's a happy tired head.

From Amy's e-mail:
What is it that you do in your daytime/work hours? Is it creative? I think from reading I have gathered that it is more of a drone-y job, but I don't want to assume. Would love to know what your "work" is.

I spent several years working within the confines of a beige cubicle in a stressful work environment. A couple of years ago, I came to a point where I could no longer sustain myself psychologically and emotionally under those conditions, so I had a breakdown took an extended leave from traditional employment, put myself back together, and figured out what I needed to do to both make money and feel that my humanity was being sustained.

Not surprisingly, I feel most sustained when exercising my creativity, so I concentrated on activities that make me, also not surprisingly, very little money: writing, photography, and design. So, in October, when a friend offered me a job manning a kiosk in a mall over the Christmas season, I thought Rent! and jumped at the chance.

Yes, I jumped at the chance to work at a kiosk in the mall selling mittens and slippers. It's true. After a couple of years squirrelled away from most of the world in my apartment, I needed to get out into the public. A person can get a little funny in the head without outside influence.

That kiosk job turned into a permanent part-time job in a shoe store, where I continue to work, and I love it. I love shoes, especially well-built comfortable shoes, and I love staff discounts on shoes, so I pretty much get to try on excellent footwear all the time, sell excellent footwear, and buy excellent footwear at a fairly deep discount. Plus, it's part time, which means that I still have time for all my creative work pursuits.

When I'm not selling shoes, I have a few paying gigs that keep me in groceries and iPhone apps. I make a small amount of ad revenue here and at Five Star Friday. I also do a bit of this and that for MamaPop, write regularly for Life As A Human, and am a graphic designer for Sweet Blog. Sweet Blog is my newest gig, I am just nearing completion on my first job with them, and I love it. Seriously. Futzing with graphics feeds my obsessive inner nit-picker, and I get to make beautiful things that can speak to both clients and their audiences, so I am SAT-ISS-FIED.

I have non-paying jobs that I created for myself, too, because I saw holes in the internet that I wanted to fill. One is the Grace in Small Things social network, and the other is the Canadian Weblog Awards. These are my labours of love, and I almost can't believe my good fortune at finding such perfect fits for me to feed some of my extra bits of creative energy and create positive community spaces on the Internet.

So, I am busy busting out my creativity all over the internets at all hours of the day and night and selling shoes on the side. Some days are lighter work-wise, and on other days I end up having to do all of the above while still remembering to eat. Financially, I am poorer than when I was languishing in my drone-y job in a beige cubicle, and my hours are more random and sometimes overwhelming, but I am much happier now. MUCH.

Before you run out to do the same, though, I must stress the word POOR. I have no credit cards, my spending cap on pants for work is $20, and, although I have my ticket for this summer's BlogHer conference in New York, affording the flight and hotel parts of the trip is quite another matter. Also, there is far less sushi in my life. There are economic concessions that must be made.

Still, the positives outweigh the negatives at this point, The more creativity I express, the more it seems I have to spend, which is the greatest thing I have taken away from leaping into so many freelance projects. I used to ask myself Can I do it? Now I know the answer: Yes, I can.

What does your work/creative life look like? Do the two coincide, or are they separate? Do you do one in order to maintain the other?

UPDATE: I forgot to mention how I made that image of myself. It's another one of my iPhone photos but created with my newest app, ToonPAINT.

2010 Canadian Weblog Awards Exclusive Nominee Interview with Alison Dunn and Perdy Andrews of 365 Fashion Rehab

Me at MamaPop: Snooki and JWOWW Only WISH They Were Proper Guidettes. Wannabes.