This year has really woken me up to the fact that I need to make some decisions about my life, the directions I want to take and the fact that I need to organise myself better! Through the festival preparations I was still working on all of my personal projects as well as working part time, and it was a struggle!
I want to share with you my thoughts on the process of turning your dreams into reality, your hobby into a career. Its certainly not easy and I have seen so many friends work their fingers to the bone getting their dreams off the ground. But here is the state that I am in:
I have been doing burlesque for over 4 years now, and the question arises: When does a hobby turn in to a career? And more importantly, how can you make this transition smoothly? There have been so many times I have doubted myself, my skills, my dreams... on a daily basis really. I certainly never though that doing burlesque could be any sort of career. But over time I found myself investing in a future, with new props and costumes, travel and finding new and creative ways to raise the funds to do these things I want to.
For a long time I maintained a full-time job as well as doing burlesque. It was a terrible telemarketing position, but my idea was that if I had a mindless, boring day job I would be able to invest all my creative energy and inspiration into the things I was passionate about. Good idea in theory, but in actual fact the constant boredom and depressing atmosphere had quite the opposite effect and I found myself so drained and down at the end of the day that all I could muster the energy for was to order take-out, flop on the sofa and watch TV. Horrid.
To be honest, even now that I am only working part-time in a much less awful environment, I still find it takes away from me being the creative, inspired person I know I have the potential to be.
So this brings me to the reason it is so difficult to ditch the day job and be a full-time artist... MONEY. Probably the number one source of depression, fear and frustration in the western world. We are so conditioned to believe that being "financially secure" is one of the most important things in life. This is one dogmatic idea that I have found seriously hard to shake. Don't get me wrong, I have no intention of spending 50 years of my life working 9-5 in a job I loathe simply to have nice things, that is one of the most ridiculously materialistic sacrifices we make, to give up your life in order to have a nice car, a pretty house and designer clothes. BUT, and it is a big but, it doesn't stop me from having a panic attack when I get an exceptionally large phone bill or can't pay the rent...
So this is when your average burlesque dancer realises that she needs to be more than just a dancer if she wants to support herself. Especially in Australia where gigs are not that easy to come by and certainly not enough to sustain any sort of standard of living. Whether its teaching classes, making costumes or putting on events, if burlesque is your lively-hood, you need to make it work for you. You need to create your own brand and market yourself as you would any product or service. It doesn't pay to be shy or under-sell yourself, if you are getting booked for gigs you want it to be because you are a professional and high quality performer, and not just because you are cheaper than the act they really want to book.
So you do these things to make yourself stand out from the crowd and you are at the point where I am, working part-time, juggling producing shows, performing, designing costumes, traveling, trying to be a half-way decent partner and friend... its HARD. Like any creative venture, you can end up obsessing over things and leaving zero time for healthy relationships let alone any semblance of "me time". Some days I will get up, spend 2-3 hours replying to emails and working on projects, go to work in the shop for 8 hours, then go straight to a gig and not get home till 1:00am.. that is a 17 hour day. That is also not very healthy physically or emotionally, right?
So when do you take that leap? When do you ditch the day job and allow your dreams to become your reality? It is so hard to take a risk that might end up in financial ruin, or worse: FAILURE (this is a big one for me.)But if you don't focus everything on your goals you are never able to put in 100%, and how can you expect to get 100% if you can't give it?
So I guess the answer is that there is never a good time, you just have to do it and hope for the best, and hope that your friends and family still love you even though you haven't always the wife/daughter/buddy that you could be...
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.