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Working in your Spare Time

When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them that I am the art director and Internet director for a publishing company. The overtime sucks; often during the monthly production crunch times I’m at the office for over fifteen hours a day for a week. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for socializing, or even sleeping.
When people ask me what I do in my spare time,and I tell them that I am a writer, that I’ve had a few books published, that I’m the editor of a magazine, that I’ve started a few web sites, and that I have book doing these things for years. Sometimes I paint, sometimes I sing with a band, sometimes I hone my photography skills.
And when people hear that, they ask me — well, don’t you relax? And well, yes, I do, I go to bars and drink and dance and I go to parties and I do my best to be social.
And then they ask me, but why do you do it? Why do you do the extra design work and Internet work? You have too much work to do as it is, why do you decide to take on more?
I guess doing the work I do, at my job as well as in my spare time, takes a lot out of me. I’m a real bitch sometimes, tired from all the work I do, and sometimes my friends don’t see me for weeks at a time. And I wish sometimes that I had a fold-out bed at my office (that would make life so much simpler sometimes...). So I don’t know how to explain to people why I do it.
The answer seems so basic that it seems like it needs more of an explanation.
Because I like it.
I do it because that’s what I do. I design a magazine and do Internet work in my spare time because it is my magazine and Internet work, not work for someone else, work that needs to be approved by a bunch of non-designers. It’s not that I’m a workaholic, or that I’m a glutton for punishment. It’s not that I hope to make a ton of money one day by writing poetry or taking pictures (you’re only a famous, money-making poet when you’re dead, and publishing the right kind of photos in the right kind of venue for the right kind of market is the only way to go to make real money as a photographer).I do it because... I like to accomplish something with my time, and it just seems to make sense to do fill my time by doing what I want to do in my life. Drinking gets a bit boring after a while, as do the people who want to sit and get drunk all the time with you.
I heard a friend talking at lunch today, and she was going on about how she felt like she wasn’t at her full potential, how she had a boring job and has had no creative outlet lately. So all she does is go out, see bands, drink a lot, and flirt with men in bars.
And she wonders what she’s missing in her life. You see, that’s why I edit a magazine in my spare time, and that s why I do the Internet working my spare time. That’s my creative outlet.
I’ve seem people life their lives wishing they were doing something else, wishing they had different opportunities, when the most obvious answer is to make your own opportunities, stop being scared of life, and just start doing what you want to do and start living. I started working on the magazine when my job wasn’t close to creative or interesting, and being the editor of my own magazine was that outlet for me because I hated my job. And although in my job now I do more of the work I wanted to do all alone, I still do the work that other people want me to do, and it is reviewed and changed by people who don’t have design sense. So I still do the work in my spare time, because it is my work, and I like it. Why sit around and watch your life go by when you could be doing something?
And when I say these things, people look at me like I’m the strange one.

This was also published as the cc&d editorial in v083, September 1996.

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