This is actually a ‘reprint’ of a post I wrote a year ago for my first blog book tour. Since I hadn’t ‘met’ a lot of my readers back then, I wanted to repost it ’cause I’m particularly fond of it. Also, it goes hand in hand with an interview the lovely Jean Henry Mead did with me for her new blog Mysterious People. Please check it out! And now…on with the post!
To quote Wikipedia:
“An important determinant of what is considered a hobby, as distinct from a profession (beyond the lack of remuneration), is probably how easy it is to make a living at the activity. Almost no one can make a living at cigarette card or stamp collecting, but many people find it enjoyable; so it is commonly regarded as a hobby.”
According to Wikipedia, my entire adult life has been spent in the pursuit of hobbies strung together with a series of short-term temp jobs the financial glue holding my life together. I’ve been, in my 20 or so years of supposed adulthood, an actress, singer, writer, percussionist, volunteer keeper/docent at an exotic feline breeding facility, and stuntwoman specializing in sword fighting. I have not made enough money at any of the above to quit my day job(s), but I have enjoyed myself immensely and am rich in eclectic life experiences.
I have spent a fair amount of time wondering why I never settled on a profession that brings in a serious salary, at a level that would support such habits as purchasing real estate and traveling to far and distant climes every year. Any one of my hobbies has the potential for raking in major bucks, but the odds are somewhere up there with winning a big lottery jackpot. And when it comes to anything involving animals, trust me when I say there is no one out there waiting to pay a person for bottle-feeding motherless kittens or raking up leopard poop.
My current day job (or paying hobby, as one co-worker put it) is at a venture capital firm, so I work with and meet a lot of people who earn great flipping wodges of cash. An pricey dinner is a drop in a very deep bucket to them, whereas to someone like me it’s the difference between covering my bills and keeping my cats in expensive no-carb kibble or being harassed by collection agencies and feeding my little darlings Purina cat chow.
If asked, however, if I’d trade my life experiences for a career path that involved 4-8 years of college, a high-powered job requiring 24/7 attention to a Treo and no time for a social life, my answer would be no. For one thing, I haven’t given up the dream of someday making one of my hobbies pay off on the material level. Also, I’ve found I can live vicariously through the characters in my writing. In MURDER FOR HIRE: The Peruvian Pigeon, for instance, my heroine Connie and her best friend and business partner Daphne make their living running a theatrical murder mystery troupe. True, they have a theater-struck landlady who gives them dirt-cheap rent for a Victorian style house in the seaside community of Emerald Cove (a thinly veiled pseudonym for La Jolla, a very ritzy neighborhood in San Diego County), but even still they rake in enough income to keep them in nice clothes, chocolate chip cookies and cocoa, with an occasional splurge for a decent bottle of single malt scotch.
My best friend Maureen and I really did run a company called Murder for Hire based in San Diego and most of our gigs were in La Jolla, but neither of us lived there and we both had other jobs to subsidize our baking and hot chocolate addiction (baking was another of our hobbies – both the creation of the goodies and subsequent consumption thereof). We had lots of good ideas, enough drive to implement some of them, but not the financial wherewithal or time to turn our theatrical hobby into a full time, lucrative career.
I eventually moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting and theatrical combat while Maureen stayed in San Diego and fulfilled one of our goals by moving to La Jolla. I worked on, acted in and wrote some movies of questionable value to society (B movies a bit further along the alphabet, but nothing X-rated, thank you very much!), still have a few scripts I’m quite proud of under option, but haven’t yet cracked the magic ‘no longer a hobby’ barrier. And that’s okay. I can live out this dream (hopefully to someday be my reality) of making my living as a writer and in the meantime, Connie and Daphne will continue to make their livings as writers/actors/directors/producers of the fictional version of Murder for Hire.