The following was inspired by Colleen Doran’s excellent post, “If You’re Not Happy, Comics Won’t Make You Happy,” but not a direct response to it. Her tangent and mine are sort of, um, tangential to one another.
The phenomenon that Colleen describes– people imagining that if they could just get that one particular job, doing that one particular thing, they’d be happy for the rest of their lives, and then finding out otherwise, to much bitterness and bile — is bigger than comics. Having any job doing what you love is dangerous, in a weird but very obvious way. I learned this when I got my first love/job gig at freespeech.org, running what was, at the time, an Internet television station, more than a decade ago now. It’s difficult to see until it’s happened to you, then it looks like the most common sense problem imaginable.
When your job is what you love, then what you love is … your job.
And a job is always a job.
To put it another way: consider my anguished teenage years. Using computers, writing little programs, being creative, making up stories, turning them into scripts, publishing little zines and comics, playing with cameras, etc., was the stuff I did to escape responsibilities like homework, chores, social interaction with family and peers, etc. And I got very good at those things, at that kind of stuff. So good at it that I managed to land a job doing it. But when it became my responsibility, when it was what everybody expected me to be doing, when people got mad at me for not doing it, or for not doing it fast or well enough, my relationship to the Internet, and to writing, and to creativity and art in general, and to my own fucking brain, seriously, shifted in ways that required some rethinking and realignment. Years’ worth of same.
Which is not to say that I don’t recommend getting a job doing what you love. Not at all. Recognizing the jobbiness of it is an important step to actually ending up loving it, though.