August 1, 2004

the sex & cash theory

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More thoughts on "How To Be Creative":

7. Keep your day job.

I’m not just saying that for the usual reason i.e. because I think your idea will fail. I’m saying it because to suddenly quit one’s job in a big ol' creative drama-queen moment is always, always, always in direct conflict with what I call "The Sex & Cash Theory".
THE SEX & CASH THEORY: "The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs: One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the task in hand covers both bases, but not often. This tense duality will always play center stage. It will never be transcended."

A good example is Phil, a NY photographer friend of mine. He does really wild stuff for the indie magazines- it pays nothing, but it allows him to build his portfolio. Then he'll go off and shoot some catalogues for a while. Nothing too exciting, but it pays the bills.

Another example is somebody like Martin Amis. He writes "serious" novels, but he has to supplement his income by writing the occasional newspaper article for the London papers (novel royalties are bloody pathetic- even bestsellers like Amis aren't immune).

Or actors. One year Travolta will be in an ultra-hip flick like Pulp Fiction ("Sex"), the next he'll be in some dumb spy thriller ("Cash").

Or painters. You spend one month painting blue pictures because that's the color the celebrity collectors are buying this season ("Cash"), you spend the next month painting red pictures because secretly you despise the color blue and love the color red ("Sex").

Or geeks. You spend you weekdays writing code for a faceless corporation ("Cash"), then you spend your evening and weekends writing anarchic, weird computer games to amuse your techie friends with ("Sex").

It's balancing the need to make a good living while still maintaining one's creative sovereignty. My M.O. is gapingvoid ("Sex"), coupled with my day job ("Cash").

I'm thinking about the young writer who has to wait tables to pay the bills, in spite of her writing appearing in all the cool and hip magazines.... who dreams of one day of not having her life divided so harshly.

Well, over time the 'harshly' bit might go away, but not the 'divided'.

"This tense duality will always play center stage. It will never be transcended."

As soon as you accept this, I mean really accept this, for some reason your career starts moving ahead faster. I don't know why this happens. It's the people who refuse to cleave their lives this way- who just want to start Day One by quitting their current crappy day job and moving straight on over to best-selling author... Well, they never make it.

Anyway, it's called "The Sex & Cash Theory". Keep it under your pillow.

Posted by hugh macleod at August 1, 2004 12:00 AM | TrackBack
Comments

There is one twist to the Sex & Cash theory: The Desperation Theory, in which, by quitting your Cash job, you force yourself into overdrive on your Sex job. It facillitates (demands?) a huge mental and creative evolution your part, but it cuts away the indecisive BS and "I'll get to it later" mentality that pens most artistic endeavors in as "spare time activities" that never quite reach their potential.

You really can't get to it later if you have to make your rent every thirty days, can you?

Posted by: Justin Kownacki at August 1, 2004 1:09 AM

Perhaps... but my experience tells me that kicking into "Desperation Mode" is unsustainable long-term.

Sure, you can do it for a few intense months, maybe a year or two, while you're still young and relatively impervious to pain.

But it gets old fast. And so, sadly, do you.

Posted by: hugh at August 1, 2004 1:51 AM

ha--i like "big ol' creative drama-queen moment"

Posted by: cynthia at August 1, 2004 12:31 PM

I've long thought of this as the "Vincent and Theo" Theo-ry. Vincent Van Gogh would've been nothing but a failed preacher and missionary who'd dabbled in the arts briefly without his brother Theo, who lived the straight "money" life and subsidized Vincent with it, in addition to promoting Vincent's work. They loved each other, they needed each other, they comprised a synergistic powerhouse.

The fact that Theo conveniently happened to be an art dealer begs a further question, though: how many creative folks work hard at the money/Theo gig in order to have weekend time for sex/Vincent...and then completely lack the time and energy to also be their own promoter/manager/publicist? You have to put food on the table and a roof over your head and guitar strings/brushes/dance shoes/whatever in your hands, you have to maintain your vision and creativity (Dorothea Brande had some good tips on how to be both a creative writer and a ruthless editor of one's own work), AND on some level you also have to be promoter/manager/publicist, which requires a Cash mentality toward the Sex product, not to mention a Sex enthusiasm for the Cash self-marketing. And, if you have a few spare minutes left over, try to be a human being, with responsible links to your community, maybe even a family.

Thesis: the World we must inhabit, the Is. Antithesis: Art, which explores possibilities, the Could Be But Ain't. Synthesis: Expression/Manifestation, which conveys What Ain't into What Is and redefines both. And still the trash needs to be taken out and don't forget your stepdad's birthday and when are you gonna get married?

Posted by: Alazka at August 1, 2004 3:26 PM

Great article and great sub-article on "sex and cash." I can so relate to what you are writing. I have done a lot of the "sexy" stuff you mentioned in my own field (I called it ego boosts because it didn't pay any bills but it did boost my ego). Someone heard about some of the sexy stuff I did and asked why I was working for the corporation I was in...the answer was simple, it paid the bills.

Posted by: Ron Huxley at August 1, 2004 3:31 PM

um....as a "creative geek" please tell me that at least one of these was supposed to say "Sex"?

"Or geeks. You spend you weekdays writing code for a faceless corporation ("Cash"), then you spend your evening and weekends writing anarchic, weird computer games to amuse your techie friends with ("Cash")."

Seriously - great article that has been forwarded to our team.

Posted by: Ed Schipul at August 1, 2004 6:28 PM

Ed, yes, it was meant to say "Sex"...

'Scuse the typo, fixed it now ;-)

Posted by: hugh macleod at August 1, 2004 8:08 PM

Desperation Mode isn't intended to be a long-term solution, of course. Desperation Mode is simply the bridge between a Stable Life Funded By Cash and a Stable Life Funded By Sex. It's the fuel for a long-term fire.

The Vincent and Theo discussion brings up a good point: time. If you can do what you'd like to do while still being productive at your day job, well fancy that. But if you find that something excites you MORE than your day job, to the point that your day job has become an eight hour chunk of your day that's separating you from what you REALLY want to do, the time has come to find a way to make what you REALLY want to do into something that also pays the bills.

Posted by: Justin Kownacki at August 1, 2004 11:36 PM

Unfortunately for geeks, the faceless corporation will have made you sign a form saying they own any anarchic, weird computer games, or other computer related creative output you may come up with.

Posted by: james at August 2, 2004 12:10 AM

Unfortunately for geeks, the faceless corporation will have made you sign a form saying they own any anarchic, weird computer games, or other computer related creative output you may come up with.

Posted by: james at August 2, 2004 12:11 AM

Well, it's great until your business gets thrown overseas (no cash) and you're forced to find a new line of income. At this point (in my mid-life) I've decided to go for sex AND cash. We shall see...

Posted by: Jimmer Jammer at August 2, 2004 2:39 AM

Henry Miller is another good example. He had a lot of sex with women from whom he mooched cash and then wrote about it. Wait a sec...

Posted by: J. Pinkham at August 2, 2004 4:34 AM

In my case, it was more like--I had given up the sex for the cash. And the the cash job went away for reasons of general economic devastation, and being unable to find other work, I turned back to sex for solace, and for something to fill the time.

And now I'm making three-fourths of my income from sex. It's not a good living yet, especially since I have a lot of shoveling to do after two years of serious underemployment...

But it did teach me that the safe job isn't, so I might as well stick to sex as much as possible, and fill in the gaps as I can.

Posted by: Elizabeth Bear at August 2, 2004 5:33 AM

Reminds me of the "Hackers and Painters" essay.

http://www.paulgraham.com/hp.html

The difference between average computer programmers and the genius hacker types, like the ones that create their own Segways out of spare parts just to see if they can, is that hackers have their day jobs programming for The Man and keep programming at night too, but this time for themselves and for the love of the game.

Posted by: Al Abut at August 2, 2004 7:36 AM

Yeah yeah yeah... not just Vincent and Theo, but John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Posted by: Richard at August 2, 2004 7:41 AM

OK...i think i've gotten it down. I quit my job 3 weeks ago to become a hooker. What's next once I have this sex for cash thing licked?

Posted by: pete at August 2, 2004 7:47 AM

Hey! This reminds me of hobby(sex) and work (cash).

Great article!!

Posted by: Twa at August 2, 2004 10:35 AM

Hey! This reminds me of hobby(sex) and work (cash).

Great article!!

Posted by: Twa at August 2, 2004 10:42 AM

Lots of good comments here, so I thought I'd add my ¢2, re: sex v. cash... I think Hugh's theory is all well and good, provided the cash job has at least some connection to the sex job. i.e. maybe you don't find catalog photography artistically rewarding, but you can at least geek out on the details and enjoy the process, as a photographer.

The situation I'm currently trying to escape is more like this: I've always been good at math and computer programming, etc., so it does pay the bills, but it's got fuck-all to do with my "sex" dreams of a career in writing for video games. I mean, I'd write for catalogs, product packaging, TV commercials... whatever! Sure I'd be frustrated with that kind of work too, but at least I'd get a chance to excercise the linguistic part of my brain at work, instead of the "SELECT * FROM users" part!

So, my advice for the kids (and for myself) is... There are many different kinds of "cash" jobs. Just because something comes easy, doesn't mean you have to do it. Find something that will at least tickle your "sex" parts now and then, lest they shrivel up and fall off! (Sorry, was that too much of a "drama queen moment?" All apologies... =)

Posted by: Eric at August 2, 2004 4:35 PM

Love it. This scenario is often made further necessary because doing what we love (the sex) from the well of our souls/creativity/convictions may never ever be something the market demands, or will even tolerate. The painter may be ahead of his time (sure, his stuff'll be worth something one day - when he's dead), the comic may say things that are unsettling, the dancer may want to dance about ugly things instead of beauty. And herein lies the problem. So I think doing the work to fund the time/supplies/angst needed to do the creative stuff will always be the means of surviving as a creative. Of course, if anyone out there wants to be a patron to a Canadian comedian, ignore all this and send me a cheque.

Great article - please keep it archived, I would love to reference it in the future. Thanks a bunch!

Posted by: David at August 2, 2004 4:58 PM

Eric spoke thusly: "The situation I'm currently trying to escape is more like this: I've always been good at math and computer programming, etc., so it does pay the bills, but it's got fuck-all to do with my "sex" dreams of a career in writing for video games. "

And then there are situations like mine, where I'm slowly realising that my "sex" dream of a career in writing for video games, when realised and turned into a 9-late job, becomes "cash" *and all that implies* and I'm wombling about trying to find a new "sex" dream because in the end I'm still just crunching numbers. I'm not sure where this fits in the general theory.

Posted by: tessa at August 2, 2004 6:01 PM

Great article. All your points are well-taken, but Martin Amis is a particularly unfortunate examplar. He famously received a then record advance of $1.1million for 'The Information' (in 1995). A good deal of this was spent installing a new set of teeth in his shambles of a mouth. I doubt his advances have gone down substantially since then.

Posted by: Michael Williams at August 2, 2004 8:27 PM

Hey Hugh, great article! For a long time I thought I was the only with this Sex and Cash theory, only I didn't knew the theory had a name. I am an aspiring actor that went a road less travelled, sacrificing almost 4 important years so that I can maintain a living and still have time to act when opportunity knocks. But I know not many pple will agree this is the way for them, but for me, its nice to know theres quite a few of us out there that follows this maxim.

Posted by: Ruok at August 3, 2004 8:22 AM

AFAIK, Vincent Van Gogh only ever sold two paintings in his lifetime.

Posted by: Nick at August 3, 2004 10:35 AM

Why is it a "her" that is waiting table?

Posted by: David at August 3, 2004 2:25 PM

i don't have any smartsey-fartsey comments about the writing.

I just like the cartoon.

a lot.

Posted by: lorrie at August 3, 2004 7:47 PM

I found a wonderful compromise in the Sex / Cash battle. A year ago I realized nobody was ever going to give me permission to follow my Sex dream (write a novel). Over the years I had asked - politely even ("May I please have my crayons back?") but nobody said yes. I didn't get less work, less responsibilities, additional vacation time, etc. So I decided to make some new boundaries.

I told my Cash gig that I needed to work 3 days a week and outlined how I could do this and still be successful in a role within the corporation. They valued me enough to give it a shot.

I now have the time I need to write. I also had to get used to living on 40% less salary. But it was worth it to go after the Sex dream. My novel is more than 1/2 written now.

Posted by: Grizzley at August 3, 2004 8:18 PM

What fascinates me is the apparent universality of your observation. I'm about the 10 zillionth person to write in and say "yes! that's me! I'm secretly a (pop star/writer/inventor/anything glamorous) and the day job is just a front. There's a parallel debate to be had about freedom and the ways in which our post-capitalist society creates serfdom without any obvious monarchs in the picture.

Posted by: jim at August 3, 2004 10:09 PM

Your cartoons are absolutely brilliant and I think your blog is one of the most interesting I’ve ever come across. The only point I am having difficulties with is the “Sex and Cash Theory”. It might work for you, your friend Phil and millions of bloggers (you obviously hit a common nerve here!), but I just don’t buy the other examples for the following reasons:

Martin Amis – as Michael Williams already explained above, he really doesn’t need a day job anymore (unless his financial advisors really ripped him off)…

Travolta was an aging third class actor whose best days were over when he got cast for Pulp Fiction. He really wasn’t in a position to choose his roles back then. And now that he is, his choices obviously don’t reflect much artistic ambition anymore. Tarantino was the best thing that ever happened to him. And Quentin’s choice to cast a rather commercial but outdated actor for a part like this was actually quite ironic and brilliant at the same time. I think what Travolta considers “Sex” is flying his big airplanes, and he only uses acting to get the “Cash” to buy them…

Painters: the contemporary art market has very complex but stringent criteria that still derive from the avantgarde theory of the radical artist who places himself outside the bourgeois society. Painters who compromise and produce pretty pictures that go with your couch are usually not taken very seriously. A Gerhard Richter doesn’t produce what the market wants. The market wants what he produces. The more controversial, uncommercial and unexpected, the better. The art world loves to be shocked by radicals.

I actually am a strong believer that if you’re really serious about your art, you have to dedicate your life to it. And then you either succeed or fail. But you have to take that risk. And if you succeed, why on earth would you want to keep your day job? And if you fail, then… well… - then you start blogging… right?

Posted by: EKO at August 4, 2004 8:51 AM

what about the person who sells thier body for sex (CASH) but thier real passion, and thier outlet for creativity is the artistic counterfitting of banknotes (SEX)?

Posted by: the bellman at August 4, 2004 9:54 AM

Bellman,

"Painters: the contemporary art market has very complex but stringent criteria that still derive from the avant garde theory of the radical artist who places himself outside the bourgeois society."

Wow. Stringent. Outside society. Since when does kissing a lot of rich people's ass (a major part of being a successful gallery artist) place one outside of society?

"Dedicate your life". I'm not even sure what that means. The good artists I know don't go around going "I hearby dedicate my life". They just get on with it. Like a job.

Although, granted, the medicore ones I know love a good speech. Especially their own.

And they love, love, love large doses of all that "artist as outsider avant guarde poet warrior sexy compelling truth seeker" horseshit to prop up their lives with, as well. Heh.

Posted by: hugh macleod at August 4, 2004 11:40 AM

Nice set of posts.

The "Sex and cash" theory is also (sort of) bandied around as the "percentage tennis" theory: not every shot can be a winner.

Posted by: Case at August 4, 2004 11:48 AM

Case, yeah, "pecentage tennis theory". I like that thought.

So what a good tennis player will do is factor it into his game.

Posted by: hugh macleod at August 4, 2004 1:49 PM

hmm, yes, you're right about the 'sex & cash theory" but thank god for freelance, at least - the best of both worlds. i couldn't live with myself otherwise.

Posted by: dori at August 4, 2004 3:22 PM

Utterly right on. Any creative person, and I mean creative in the broadest sense of any person who is putting their creative drive to use, can tell the difference, often with a single glance, between a person who's doing something, and a person whose just wanking in place. Often the wankers are the ones who are most convinced they've sacrificed all for their "art". Often the doers are as heavily engaged in their day job as they are in their creativity.

"Behind many a mediocre poet, I have found a great man. Behind many a great poet, a mediocre man."

--Neitzsche

Posted by: TonyD at August 4, 2004 11:15 PM

I thought I was utterly alone in my struggles and then I find your thoughts Hugh. I work as a janitor for the government(cash) and I'm a single dad of a 13 year old boy. I write and draw my own comic book. I have no illusions about making money or gaining notoriety for my work. My reward is the work itself. When I published my first comic it was my reward for staying on the path. I've met many people who were far more talented than me but none of them persevered. There are always excuses for not writing and/or drawing but time is like money, once you waste it ain't coming back. None of us has limitless time to waste or as Henry Rollins put it " You could spend your entire life in the nowhere land of self doubt". Been there done that and got the T-shirt too. Be a self starter and be prepared to fail and accept that there will always be doubters and nay sayers. Remember that the race isn't given to the strongest but to he that endures. Keep striving.

Posted by: tony figueroa at August 5, 2004 12:16 AM

This is why so many "artists" (sex) in New York City have a trust fund (cash).

Posted by: Ted at August 5, 2004 4:10 PM

rather than a sex/cash balance, or a desperation theory, why not the lucky bum theory?

in a nutshell: do what you wanna, and if you wanna share it and be famous, well.. do it, I guess. and if you wanna be a lazy dreamer who never wants to have to work someone else's time?

pros: no cares, smoke pot all day and socialize, learn things, and do whatever you dream of on the side. essentially lurk in your favorite cell with dreams of good fortune. Also, you help your local unemployment rates by providing others with your missed opportunities.

cons: no fixed income, sacrificing some desires, having to fit in with a society that 'can't take you anywhere' because you never have any cash.

it is a rough start, especially if you are completely independant. but I'm still here.

Posted by: Eight at August 5, 2004 11:08 PM

A trust fund would be nice. My job is totally non creative but it does provide for the materials I need for my comics. Still, I very much wish to successfully resign but not right now. I'm not sure what "Eight" is trying to say but here goes: I don't enjoy working someone else's time but I have to. The discipline needed to get up and go to work everyday has carried over into my creative time. Eight, try working and get some dirt under your nails. Working someone else's time focuses your mind wonderfully on your creative time.

Posted by: tony figueroa at August 6, 2004 1:23 AM

Where does Van Gogh fit into this?

Posted by: jag at August 6, 2004 2:09 AM

This reminds me of an article I once read in defense of "dumb jobs," written by a bartender/writer. His thesis was that there is an upside to having a "dumb job" like bartending or mopping floors (or working in call centers ::waves::) if you have creative ambitions of some sort, because they don't occupy much of your brainspace, and you are free to think about that knotty plot point, or polish that real clunker of a line in the third stanza, or decide how you are going to fix that dead spot in your painting, while doing your job more or less on auto-pilot.

And of course, because it is just a dumb job, you never take it home with you psychologically, and if at any point a particular dumb job starts to really interfere with your creative process (due, perhaps, to a worse than usual numbfuck of a boss) you junk it and get a different dumb job that isn't such a pain in the ass and an obstacle to your creativity. Of course, just like the average freelancer, who has in some ways taken the exact opposite approach, you usually have to make some concessions in regards to lifestyle and wealth, but I'm of the opinion most of us have more shit than we need, so making those concessions can teach you how to live light, which isn't a bad thing anyway.

Posted by: roxann at August 7, 2004 2:05 PM

Van Gough?

Sex: Making paintings.

Cash: Getting his brother Theo to send him money.

Rock on.

Posted by: hugh macleod at August 7, 2004 3:23 PM

I find that doing both the Sex and Cash things is important. My Cash job keeps me in touch with the real world, and exposes me to lots of people and their stories. My Sex job is playing in a classical-music group, and my experience is that many people who pursue this kind of music full-time become very serious and forget the fact that music is supposed to be fun. I think I actually play *better* because I'm not trying to make a living at it -- I'm trying to please myself and my audience.

Posted by: cordelia at August 9, 2004 5:11 PM

I totally buy this theory, thanks for putting the article up!

I have a part-time job with decent pay and fulltime benefits. As a result I work with a lot of wonderful creative people - writers, painters, dancers and musicians. They are almost across-the-board more interesting than the fulltime arts people I know, because they do what they love because they love it, not to get a grant or a line on the cv, and they're never re-doing old stuff long after it's lost its spark because their fanbase loves it.

Posted by: Rosa at August 9, 2004 6:47 PM

Grizzley...
Your post was a much needed confirmation to me today!
Thanks!

Posted by: Monique at August 12, 2004 1:31 AM

Grizzley...
Your post was a much needed confirmation to me today!
Thanks!

Posted by: Monique at August 12, 2004 1:31 AM

Spiritually, I believe the idea of the separation of anything from anything else is bullshit. If one is willing to clear the mind of convention and listen to the inner voice, step by step, miraculuously, one will find that the only thing that actually works in life, bringing bliss with it, is a seamless representation of the whole that each person's essence actually is. "The decisive moment" becomes the one in which, finally, one is unable any longer to choose against itself and its wholeness. This is not to suggest an appearance of peaches 'n cream cookies will accompany one down the hard trail of reaching this point of Truth, Light, Love.

Posted by: Renata at August 12, 2004 10:57 PM

Spiritually, I believe the idea of the separation of anything from anything else is bullshit. If one is willing to clear the mind of convention and listen to the inner voice, step by step, miraculuously, one will find that the only thing that actually works in life, bringing bliss with it, is a seamless representation of the whole that each person's essence actually is. "The decisive moment" becomes the one in which, finally, one is unable any longer to choose against itself and its wholeness. This is not to suggest an appearance of peaches 'n cream cookies will accompany one down the hard trail of reaching this point of Truth, Light, Love.

Posted by: Renata at August 12, 2004 10:58 PM

This article has summed up a lot of where I've been in the past. I'm in the really lucky position of going into a "Cash" scenario and finding "Sex".

I've explained all this to my wife, quoted this essay, and my wife has thumnped me.

I shall never use the phrase 'You see love, I'm happy because I'm getting sex in the office' again.

Posted by: Ethics at August 13, 2004 12:52 AM

Thanks, all, for a highly important discussion.

In response to EKO, who said:

"I actually am a strong believer that if you’re really serious about your art, you have to dedicate your life to it. And then you either succeed or fail. But you have to take that risk. And if you succeed, why on earth would you want to keep your day job? And if you fail, then… well… - then you start blogging… right?"

EKO, some of us have artistic projects (i.e. feature films) that require a great deal of money to actualize. A CASH job doesn't even begin to cover their cost. So the prospect of making do without a CASH job in such cases is beyond impossible (unless we have sugar daddies or trust funds). And unfortunately, a talent for raising cash (not my talent, by the way) is even more important than a talent for writing and directing. Which is why there are so many bad films out there.

Posted by: Judy at August 14, 2004 4:18 AM

I think you are amazingly sexy and loaded!
I am completely turned on by your site!
I feel overwhelmed by your insights and your thought process'...
wow!
i want to gobble you up!
HAHA!
lATER- L

Posted by: Loopsy Daisy at August 15, 2004 4:59 PM

Sexy & Loaded! Yay!

Posted by: hugh macleod at August 15, 2004 10:36 PM

nice article, interesting thoughts...

Posted by: Peter at August 17, 2004 2:13 AM

It's so refreshing to hear someone else talking about the exact same situation I find myself in. Noone I know is doing what I do and noone really gets it. Thankyou.

Posted by: karambos at August 24, 2004 10:57 AM

Well....I just did the big ole diva drama queen thang last week... and all I know is it felt fantastic!

High payin, creative director role....gone.
Scary brink of nothingness ahead...

The reason your theory didnt work for me is that the day job was 10 hours a day and I was so depleted I couldn't
find a creative bone left in my body for the evenings or the weekends when i just needed R&R.
The day job neednt be 50 hours a week right?

Anyways LOVE your work and really enjoyed your theory!
Diana :-)

Posted by: Diana Janicki at August 24, 2004 11:08 AM

Heh, well diana, rules were made to be broken ;-) Good luck to you!

Posted by: hugh macleod at August 24, 2004 1:48 PM

A very interesting theory, and one I can't say I disagree with in principle. When I faced the decision to become a full-time illustrator, I went whole-hog. I was such an egomaniacal jerk that I really thought I could just sit and draw all day (re: have Sex) and people would throw Cash at me. It took 13 years, but it finally happened. I do wish I'd heard of this theory earlier... - mh

Posted by: Matt Haley at August 24, 2004 6:48 PM

Don't get me wrong, I love the cartoons - and it doesn't matter one iota that they're on a biz card. Creative? Sure, whatever. The content is what makes them worth looking at.

As for sex & cash theory, there's nothing revolutionary there. Most people would just call it "hobby & job" instead of "sex & cash". It's all about priorities.

Posted by: vanselu at September 14, 2004 11:46 PM

Vanselu, thanks for the input.

A. I make no claim to be revolutionary. It's meant to be common sense, based on my own and others' personal experience.

B. It's not just about "Hobby & Job". It applies to professional creatives and artists as well. I suppose what's interesting to me is how the pro's are as affected by it as any amateur.

Posted by: hugh macleod at September 19, 2004 1:56 AM

I think this is just another personal theory ... so it shouldn`t be thought of as a "universal truth".

It worked for the Wright brothers. Their bycicle company paid the bills for their research ("sex") but what about Bill Gates?
He dumped the "cash" (studying Harvard, lawyer) for the "sex". I hope we all agree he did a wise choice, don`t we ?

Sometimes "sex" implies absolutely no compromises ("cash", day jobs whatever) so make sure you`re not taking this theory for granted.

Posted by: Chris at September 24, 2004 11:48 AM

I love my job. It gives me cash AND sex. Sometimes the sex even gets me cash. Beat that.

Posted by: Max at October 1, 2004 3:17 PM

"cash & sex" no duh.

Posted by: dino r. at October 3, 2004 12:32 AM

"You will need clothes, food, and a place to live. Do what it takes to get those things first. With the time left over, do whatever you want."

That is NOWHERE NEAR what I'm saying, Cosine.

Please re-read and get back to me ;-)

Posted by: hugh macleod at October 21, 2004 1:07 AM

i like to be interesting, i like fuck and diferent thing, i like money fast...

Posted by: reina at November 8, 2004 9:51 PM

I like to be interesting, i like fuck and diferent things, i love games and you touch my body...come in knowme...

Posted by: reina at November 8, 2004 9:56 PM

There is a man named Mark Savickas. He's a researcher who studies careers and career development. As people go, this guy is like the gold standard for career theories.

Anyway, he has this lecture he goes over in his classes called "Work and Love." What you've described is the essential message of the Work and Love lecture. You have your Work (cash) and your Love (sex).

So now you can toss around names like Donald Super, or Mark Savicks and talk somewhat comfortably about career and life development theories.

Posted by: Roger at November 11, 2004 11:22 PM

Reminds me of the "Hackers and Painters" essay.

Posted by: Hot Sauce at November 17, 2004 3:41 PM

I quit my cash job around 1990, and found myself living with a nutball sexy cartoonist cash copywriter above a hot mexican bakery in Chicago. It was worth it.

opting for the sex side doesn't mean you still do not find yourself grubbing for cash. Unless you are supported as van gough was with a partron or trust fund or whatever, there is no such thing as choosing not to pursue cash - its just a matter of how much. and if you're talking about sex with someone other than yourself, having a little cash can really help.

Posted by: mark at November 26, 2004 1:03 AM

Interesting refinement, and much more realistic, than the "Do what you love, the money will follow" theory. I had always put just the minimum amount of effort I could get away with in the day job ("Cash" thing) just hard enough so I could devote as much time and energy as possible in being an electronic musician ("Sex" thing), thinking that sooner or later the music would 'pay off' (become the "Cash" thing) and I'd live happily ever after. It never worked out that way (and, I might add, there were times when I compromised myself in doing the music thing with others that no only did it not pay the bills but it wasn't all that fun, a double whammy in that regard), so I gave up the music so I could shore up the bill paying part of my life.

Now, even though I don't have as much time as I'd like for the music thing, I get more out of it because (a) the tools have evolved so much that I can make really great sounding music, and more of it in less time; and (b) I only do it for my enjoyment, not out of some misplaced hope that it will ever pay the bills.

Your XXX vs $$$ theory (and in fact the entire How To Be Creative series) have helped me realize how lucky I am to be able to do what I'm doing the way that I'm doing it. Thanks for that.

SUBVERT THE DOMINANT PARADIGM!

Posted by: Tom O. at December 7, 2004 9:12 PM

i want to be a porn star

Posted by: john at December 13, 2004 10:17 PM

This is all very well and good untill you

"reach the stage of no return"

Lets say, you followed some of your fantastic theories and decided to branch out of your normal realm, of say mechanic, and spend four years at university studying graphic design,

So to support yourself during those 4 years you work between studying hoping that when you finshed you could concentrate soley on your sexy job.

Somewhere near the end of your studies, the plane crashed, it became IMPOSSIBLE to keep fixing cars while designing , (dirty hands and clean print outs dont mix)

I reached the "POINT OF NO RETURN"

I reached a point where i realised that the "cash job didnt weigh up, and that it was causing more harm to my creativity than good, it was destroying my will to live, and i advise young artists not to ignore this feeling and quit...before your entire soul is sucked clean...
and you become a former shell of a person...

Most of your examples, had a pretty cool cash jobs, how many had to crawl under a car during pouring rain and replace someones startermotor.

Or clean out filthy toilets, etc.

So i want to point out to artists, that if your smart, and clever you can craft your life to live without out needing a cash job, but you have to be willing to give away many things, (like any self respecting partner)


This point of no return is i think a healthy excercice for all artists, i know one george orwell, most certainly reached the point of no return many times, (see keep the aspistria flying)

or sartre (nausea) or even steppenwolf

most of the characthers of these novels where doing diddly squat....and had profound realisations and existential delemias...

so ... you decide...

Posted by: misnomer at December 15, 2004 12:53 PM

Not me, baby.

I always dreamed of living life in haiku instead of blank verse, of being permanently constrained, of perfecting the looks of exasperation that come from endless days of middle management meetings. I wanted to live a life of quiet desperation, a corporate shill, a vacuous empty shell filled with false patriotism for a soulless, faceless corporation.

This isn't just ironic lip service.

I wanted a tan sedan with the radio permanently tuned to the local lite rock/adult contemporary radio station, a three bedroom semi-detached in Milton Keynes with a small conservatory out back. I wanted a nagging wife, worries about whether I could afford my kids' braces and a knick-knack shelf full of Hummels.

I wanted to be bald and pudgy, have a wry, resigned cynicism and the survival instincts of a cockroach.

I wanted a liquor cabinet full of middle-shelf whiskey, a handicap of 20 and a normal life. A normal life.

I've strived for mediocrity. I have failed.

Posted by: Nathan Dornbrook at December 17, 2004 7:13 PM

Well, Nathan Dornbrook, that was really a great post. Not at all mediocre. Wow.

Posted by: well at January 3, 2005 7:58 PM