We’re happy to welcome back A. L. Michael for another of her excellent and refreshingly honest guest posts – this time it’s a bang-on-theme post about money. Enjoy.
After a good while of being a self-employed artist, and with having to fill out my first tax form looming (and having lost my accounts book!), I thought I’d pontificate on the point of the ‘starving artist’ cliche.
I quite enjoy it. Which, as a creative entrepreneur, is kind of a let down. The point of being a creative entrepreneur is to know that you deserve to be paid for your artistic endeavours, and to strive to make them profitable. And I do. But there’s something vaguely enjoyable about the idea of ‘sacrificing’ for your art. As if what I do means so much to me, that I’m willing to dial down on my other wants.
I think I’ve mentioned before that artistry can be a lifestyle, and maybe it’s just that I enjoy being able to legitimately live like a student, coffee and cigarettes and all that. Except you kind of grow out of that lifestyle. You stop smoking because it costs too much, and you realise all that coffee is making you frazzled, and you would like to eat a meal that doesn’t consist of carbohydrates, and you’d like to buy organic and actually get that bike…
I’ve heard that comparison is the thief of joy, and I suppose there have been moments when I’ve wondered if doing what you love full time is worth it. It’s just a job, right? Most people hate their jobs. Why not just hate my job, do what I love in my spare time, and be able to buy a house or afford nice holidays like my friends?
The answer to that is that I’m a fairly 2D character, all the things I like are within my professional sphere. Everything I can do, is to do with writing. When I look for other skills and hobbies, or something I could actually do as a career, they’re all tied back to what I’m already doing. So the point here is surely to do what I already do, but make it more profitable, and save more.
And so I reach the point! I will be taking part in the Money Diet as found on the blog And Then We Saved (If anyone’s looking for ways to be thrifty, I can absolutely recommend this). And just as being an artist is an excuse to live like a student, it’s also a way of getting away with being thrifty without looking like a cheapskate. Because you’re an artist, of course you’re going to make your own Christmas presents, you artist you. Of course, you’re going to scour groupon deals for fun days out, and make coffee instead of buying it from a chain coffee seller. Of course, you’re going to take your friends to weird little independent restaurants that have atmosphere (and happen to be cheap).
I know a lot of my successful artist friends may find this picture I’m painting a bit obnoxious. But just as I didn’t feel guilty buying cheap cider or stealing extra bog roll from the union when I was a student, assuming the identity of the ‘starving artist’ releases me from the worries of what other people will think of my life choices.
So yes, I am going to make my own Christmas presents, and I’m going to invite friends over for dinner instead of going out, and I shall take joy in walking around London, browsing in bookshops, and finally, having the time to do the one thing which is free, and yet one day may be profitable…my writing work.
I’ll be updating my thoughts and struggles on the Money Diet over the next few months! Stay tuned!
A.L Michael is a writer and workshop leader from North London. She has a BA in Creative Writing with English Lit, an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship and is starting an MsC in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes. Because you can never learn enough. She’s currently the Writer in Residence for Red Door Studios in East Ham, and her debut novel Wine Dark, Sea Blue is available to buy in hard copy, and on kindle. Not that she’s sick of talking about it or anything.
Thanks Andi – I look forward to learning how your Money Diet is getting on. After doing my own taxes and working out my own cabbages and champagne budgets I might be joining you on the Money Diet.
While you’re getting to grips with budgeting and learning to manage your money, I have found another great resource to recommend. I stumbled upon a website called You Need A Budget. They make a budgeting software (which looks very good but I haven’t used it so I can’t vouch for it). They offer an excellent 9 day free email course about budgeting featuring their 4 budgeting rules. It’s a really useful series and they’re actually quite entertaining. To receive them please go here.