Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thursday Thoughts

Today, I'd like to talk about the idea that, "If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life."  I wish I could remember where I first saw commentary debunking this particular pearl of wisdom, because I would give credit where it's due - but at least I can clarify that these thoughts didn't originate with me.

First of all:  it's nonsense, and not only that, it's harmful nonsense, prompting people who *are* doing what they love and still feeling frustrated or stressed to secondguess themselves.  Every profession has aspects that are drudgery; every profession also has aspects that are bound not to be an individual's cup of tea.  (These aspects may or may not fully overlap.)

For instance, I adore performing and teaching the harp.  However, I dislike:

Making phone calls to clients.
Diagnosis of buzzing strings.
Explaining the limitations of the instrument to clients - no, I can't realistically pick up a brand-new piece of music in four days; no, I can't accompany a vocalist if the tune is in five flats; no, XYZ can't be played on a lever harp (though I can work some miracles and this rarely happens - the last tune I tried to work up and failed was personal, and it was "Til There Was You" from Music Man).  The lever harp has a steeper learning curve than many instruments, and even other musicians are sometimes surprised when I have to say "no" - or better, "I can, but it wouldn't be to a standard I would feel comfortable with for your event."
... okay, that was a rant.  Back to the list.
Special requests to learn a tune I can't stand (example redacted ;-))
Required standard repertoire I can't stand (Danny Boy and Wagner's Bridal Chorus ("Here Comes The Bride"), I'm looking at you)  (Conversely, I adore the Pachelbel's Canon, cliche though it is)
Cameras, especially for posed shots.  Get out of my face!  Or at least warn me so you only get the instrument.  It's the only part of the package worth photographing.
Long, narrow staircases.

From this laundry list, there's clearly some work involved in this occupation I love ... but if I were to omit any (or at least most) of these items, I would have difficulty booking jobs.  The same is true for any vocation.  I think few writers enjoy the process of submission and rejection; many also loathe editing or marketing (or both).

Let's play Devil's advocate for a moment.  Let's say your passion in life is gardening, but you hate tracking plant shipments and physically unloading the plants ... but!  An employer is willing to pay you to do just the part of the job you're interested in.  Someone else will do the tracking and the heavy lifting.  Sounds like you've escaped ... but now you have to deal with your boss' expectations and requirements, either clock in and clock out at specific times (convenient or not) or in some way record your hours ... the work has found you again.

Does that mean I suggest having any old job, because you'll never be totally happy?  Not at all.  The pleasure of doing what you love is hard to beat.  But expecting that there won't be any rough patches or places where you're just slogging along seems unrealistic to me.  Every occupation has its work:  you just have to find one where the good outweighs the bad to the point ...

Well, where you find yourself forgetting the bad and spouting, "If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life."  But please don't.

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