I hate going to the doctor’s office, and probably not for the reasons you think. Of course, sitting around wearing nothing but a paper sheet is no fun, I absolutely abhor being weighed, and I have an unreasonable fear of having my blood pressure taken, but one of the things I dislike most is filling out the forms in the waiting room. The family history part is easy, but eventually I have to declare what it is I “do” for a living, and I never know what to say. Should I say I’m a stay-at-home mom? Should I declare myself a writer? I feel like stay-at-home mom doesn’t capture everything I do, but I worry that I’m being a poseur if I call myself a writer. “You’re not a real writer,” the voice in my head says to me. “It’s not like you’ve ever made any money writing.”
When I look around my house, I see evidence of the talented women in my life, most of whom either spend their days taking care of small children or working at jobs far less soul-satisfying. There are paintings by my best friend and college roommate, a quilt my aunt spent hours stitching together, costumes lovingly sewed by my godmother, beautiful baptism photos of my daughter taken by another wonderful friend, my girls wear bracelets made by a friend who is a SAHM with a PhD. My mom’s delicious cakes often fill our fridge, and another friend has a habit of dropping by with beautifully decorated cupcakes.
These friends are not doing it for the money. Michelle could charge five times as much as much as she does to take pictures. She’s incredibly talented, and after she’s done with a shoot, she spends hours editing her images. From a purely economic standpoint, what she earns is not worth the time she invests. When I was a little girl, my mom and her best friend spent the year hand painting and cross-stitching sweatshirts, toys, and baby accessories and sold them at a craft fair each fall, and barely cleared enough money to pay for their fees and travel expenses.
So why do we do it? None of us at Segullah is getting rich from what we write, but here we are, day after day. What is the creative endeavor in your life that brings you happiness and how do you share it? In what ways do you benefit from the passions you see in others? When you’re at the doctor’s office, do you fill out the employment box with “painter” or do you call yourself a “SAHM” or an “office manager”? Does it matter what you put in that box?
P.S. It’s not entirely true that I’ve never made any money from my writing. I did get $50 once.