conversation is an engine

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The Tradeoffs in Selling Your Craft

with 5 comments

Make a living while making a life

tumblr_mge24fCN6u1qmvy8zo1_500-01152013Teaching 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.

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Image credit: frenchtwist via 2headedsnake

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Written by kirkistan

January 15, 2013 at 12:16 pm

5 Responses

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  1. […] this ongoing discussion of what makes for fulfilling work, I want to trace fulfillment down a different thread. This thread places the writer in a team with […]

  2. […] been arguing that work and art sometimes fit hand in glove and sometimes stay at opposite ends of our daily […]

  3. […] I’ve recently discovered? This generous writer visited a number of obscure blogs (including Conversation is an Engine) and commented. Many of us followed back to her blog (lesson learned on growing an […]

  4. […] the debate over art versus commerce (or fulfillment versus earning a paycheck), let me point out two bits of commerce guided by artists. Dustin O’Holloran wrote the score for […]

  5. […] this ongoing discussion of what makes for fulfilling work, I want to trace fulfillment down a different thread. This thread places the writer in a team with […]


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