My twenty-seventh birthday is in five days and for the first time in my life I feel age reach its scaly tendrils round my shoulders. I watch Surf’s Up with the kids and think, Why haven’t I collaborated on an imaginative surfer docudrama starring penguins? I roll each syllable of a Kipper book off my tongue, study each illustration, and think, Would they enjoy a story I had written or illustrated? I pass the sheet of robot wallpaper hanging on my wall next to my door and think, Couldn’t I draw that?
For various reasons, I’ve devoted a lot of recent thought to not only how long I’ll have my current job, but what I’ll do when it’s done. Much as I blog about the joys of going with the flow, when it comes to one’s livelihood, there is a point where self-respect and longterm happiness rely on making a defined effort toward a specific goal. If my goal is to support myself creatively, I should look at paying venues: stock art vendors, magazines that use illustration, sites that want bloggers or writers.
Yes, I can write this novel and then move on to another similar gig when my current au pair position ends in February, continue babysitting while I write draft after draft, and hope that someday a completed draft and Mrs. Moneyed Publisher will meet and fall in love. But tonight I have to ask myself, what else can I do to generate income creatively? What else can I do to make sure that, when I turn thirty, I’m not still babysitting, broke and bent on selling a hundred wrinkled sheets of type?