Every time I go to a creative meet or mingle with fellow ink-scribbling-Mac-loving-day- dreaming humans, I feel, the raw, passionate, frugal artist in me come out alive and slay the worldly corporate creature. If someone measured my aura post those interactions, I promise you, they’d be intrigued by the halo around my heart :-) I enter a state of timeless trance, and everything around becomes a rhythmic yet insignificant blur. For instance, last week when I got home from one such event, my husband asked, “How was the event?” I said, “samosa and wine have never tasted better.” Just so you know, I love samosa and wine individually but not together. But is that sensation enough to make a life-altering decision?
Off late, numerous people have asked me if I wanted to quit my job and become a full-time writer. Here is my response: “I want to but can’t.” Before I say anything further, let me digress and clarify a simple difference between “want” and “can.” Want is a desire that stems from your heart while can & cannot is reality that you see with your eyes. It’s rare for the ‘want’ and the ‘can’ family to dance in unison.
Let’s get real here. Not every writer has the same destiny as Jhumpa Lahiri or the resources of Virginia Wolfe. I am not being a wuss and looking for excuses, but the fact is that becoming a full-time writer today would also mean compromising on things that I really like. It would also mean taking gratuitous risks. It was one thing if I was nineteen and still figuring out my life. I wouldn’t have known any different. Who knows; deprivation might have sounded romantic. But I am not just beginning my life. I am old enough to have distinct tastes (good or bad) and set expectations from life. I love the smell of rustic, quaint bookstores, and Literati Company but in the same breath, I cherish the coffee shops and wine bars near such stores. I am not profligate, but I’d be lying if I said that I don’t care about trying out new restaurants, going on vacations, or purchasing chic items. I mean, designer handbags are my weakness (Who am I kidding? Let’s call it “vice.”). Burberry is my eternal soul mate. But then, I work hard and earn the money for my indulgences.
Here is the question: Even before I consider my case on the scale of want and can, let’s pause and think about the “fairness factor.” Without a fixed income, will I be able to afford the “fine” things” in life? Sure, my soul might feel nourished if I spend eternity in the company of words, but what about my wallet that’s used to a (maybe not fat but dependable) paycheck? As I mentioned earlier, with time and age, we all get set in our own styles. Scaling back is a Herculean task if imposed intentionally. I still might be able to compromise on a few things, but would it be fair to deliberately deprive my family because I decide to go on a whim of self-gratification? To me, it feels a little unjust. And what makes my relationship with words more sanctimonious than my husband’s passions? I have always been outspoken about gender equality, so how is it fair that I get to pursue my dream (without a conscience) with no to negligible return on investment and my husband slaves over reality?
More until next time.
Copyright © 04.30.2009
"When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is." - Oscar Wilde