Disclaimer: The following is a random jumble of sleepy thoughts. It makes no claims to good writing or proper grammar (and yes, I do realize that I just personified my writing).
I have a little secret to tell you. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t really enjoy the process of sewing.
I mean seriously? Who enjoys painstakingly cutting out fabric, pinning it together, sewing straight lines, finishing seams, trimming necklines and facings, and all that jazz?
Ok. I know some people enjoy it. I’m just not one of them.
So why do I keep coming back? Why do I lie in bed at night mentally completing sewing projects and thinking through each step (even the ones I hate) involved in designing my own dress, skirt, or pants?
It’s the same thing with writing, really. I had a reputation as a writer long before I had a reputation as an aspiring seamstress. The truth is, though, I don’t really enjoy it. At least, I don’t enjoy the finer points of writing.
Who wants to dissect sentences, hunt for the right word, look up grammar rules, plan out perfect plots, or create cohesive characters? The ideation is great. But going through the blood, sweat, and tears of making those ideas into readable wholes? Not my idea of fun.
And yet, no matter how hard I fight my addiction, I still find myself coming back to writing. I still find myself dreaming up ideas in the shower and rushing out with half-washed hair to write them down before I forget. I still find myself staying up late (like tonight) when I should be in bed just so I can try to corral this stream of ideas into submission. I still find myself trying to create strong characters and plots.
So what is it? Why do I keep coming back to these things I don’t like? After much thought, I have only one answer. Passion. Because here’s the thing, I’m lazy. I don’t like doing anything that reeks of hard work. But I like, love, am passionate about the creating, and creating, my friends, is hard work. I keep coming back because the rewards are sweet.
There’s been some recent chatter across social media channels about the saying “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” To be honest, I’ve never liked that phrase.
For starters, even the most enjoyable job will have amounts of pure, hair-tearing boredom. It’s just a fact. You will work a day in your life. You will work many days in your life. And it will feel like back-breaking labor. The point is to find something that makes the working days worth it.
Second, I feel the statement has a fundamental flaw based on our culture’s definition of “love.”
Let me explain. We use the word “love” for chocolate and our parents equally. Of course, there’s a cultural understanding that you love your parents more than chocolate (at least I hope you do), but we use both words for both feelings. They’re different, though. Enjoying chocolate is easy. Loving your parents, or anyone else for that matter, is quite often hard work.
So when people say, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work,” the idea I take away is enjoyment or the kind of love you have for chocolate. “Do something you enjoy, and you’ll never work because enjoyment is the opposite of work.”
If I were to simply do what I enjoy, I would spend my days on the couch, watching TV shows and movies with awesome wardrobes, eating pasta, drinking orange juice by the gallon, and shopping for clothing online till my credit card maxed out. I love narrative, food, and style. Why not enjoy them the easy way? But let’s face it. I enjoy pasta, but I don’t truly love it.
When I do something I love, though, that’s a different story. I write stories and blogposts; I make my own pasta (yes, I said make my own pasta!); I plan wardrobes and sew clothes. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy doing what I love, but I don’t enjoy it because it’s fundamentally enjoyable to sweat over a rolling pin or pull out threads till my eyes water. I enjoy it because I love it. Few things can match how much I enjoy successfully creating a new recipe, story, or dress, even if the process is hard work.
So I guess what I’m saying is, here’s my take on that famous saying, “If you do what you’re passionate about, it generally won’t be easy, and it won’t always be enjoyable, but everyday of work will be worth it.”