The Tradeoffs in Selling Your Craft
Make a living while making a life
Teaching in a college English department, I come in contact with lots of people who want to express themselves. They have things to say and they want to say those things through poetry, fiction and all manner of creative writing. The typical line of thinking goes that the best and highest fulfillment comes from putting words around those things that compel us. The process of searching out those compelling things involves regularly plunging deep inside to pull stories and impressions up to the surface to slice and dice for delivery. This is good and useful work and has, or course, resulted in the poems and works of fiction and symphonies and songs celebrated worldwide.
This work of surfacing our deepest thoughts and emotions and capturing them for delivery is important work in which each of us must continue. I want to do this as well and regularly set aside time for it. But is this highly internal work the only route to fulfillment? Answer “Yes!” and you shortchange the rest of life.
I want to argue in a few posts that we make some of our best and most meaningful contributions when three streams collide:
- Faith: what we believe
- Talents: what we are gifted at
- Service: as we focus on needs outside of us, how can we use our faith and talents and imagination to solve those needs?
I want to argue the junction of craft and faith and need is the locus of true fulfillment. When we plumb our depths for words or impressions that solve a need our organization or community has identified, well then we’ve done a good thing and a highly fulfilling thing. I might further argue that much of our greatest art and literature has come from that junction of craft, faith and need.
Writing ad copy or technical specs is not the route to personal fulfillment. But neither is a self-focus that never reaches out.
There’s lots more to say about this.