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There is a scene in the BBC production “I, Claudius” where Messalina the wife of the Emperor invites Silla the top prostitute in Rome for a contest on who can ‘outlast the other’. When Messalina thanks her for being ‘sporting’ about it, Silla takes umbrage: there is no money it. She explains she is a professional, she works for money, adding ‘the honor I leave entirely to you”. She explains to a courtier “the difference between you and me, actor, is you’re a snob and I’m not. And the difference between this great lady and myself is my work is her hobby. My hobby happens to be gardening, for which I don’t expect to be paid.”*

Once in a while I get an email or comment on my shirts and masks or even my blog encouraging me to do them as a career. I am flattered of course by such compliments; it is nice to get positive feedback on ones endeavors. However these are my hobbies. As soon as I try doing them for money they would cease being hobbies and become headaches. I very much enjoy writing but it makes my eyes cross considering how a professional writer must feel to ‘put out’ as it were with demands and deadlines.

I enjoy my day work and I do it well. It has its demands and deadlines and sometimes (only sometimes?) it feels unfulfilling, but it is a job. I am hired to do something regardless how I feel about it that particular day. With hobbies you can do them or not and when the cease to be joyful or meaningful you stop them. As Jane Wagner wrote:

“It’s one thing to endure a boring marriage but a boring affair does not make any sense”

This is why I do not get writer’s block. When I feel such, I remind myself what I really have is a fear of writing bad. I then start writing. Often what comes out is bad so I erase it all and not worry. Sometimes (only sometimes?) The Unconscious or The Muses or Somebody like them emerges through the bad prose and what emerges like a seed to slowly grow into something good, or at least good enough to post. I hope people will read and like it. A sense of accomplishment and a few bravos is all a hobby needs.

I will keep the day job and at night unwind with my writing. It is a nice balance. Just don’t mix the two things up.

 

*Silla loses the contest but she gets paid at least.

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