There has been a fair bit of talk about the phrase recently, in various disciplines. An article over at Slate by Miya Tokumitsu talks about one interpretation, and there’s a discussion over at Sew Mama Sew right now about the same thing.
Personally, I used to buy into it, but now I have issues with the phrase and with the whole “do what you love” thing. There is a heck of a lot of hard work behind the scenes, before we see the pictures of the perfect craft room, the perfect project that seems so effortless.
A few years ago, there was an interior designer with a blog (I wish I could remember where and who it was), who posted the truth behind her gorgeous work: she couldn’t afford to do her entire house, and so would take carefully staged photos of a single vignette, which gave the appearance of a grander scale. It wasn’t honest, and it wasn’t real, and people were examining themselves against these photos and feeling as if they were less, that they had failed, somehow. The truth is that craft and sewing bloggers and online personalities have a great deal invested in coming off as The Authority, or The Perfect Crafter/Mother/SpecializedMakerofThings. We “curate”, so that this prettiness of perfection is raised high on a pedestal, and somehow people who see it think it is the truth, and that it’s always that way.
Think about that, then think about this quote fromTokumitso, who says
No one is arguing that enjoyable work should be less so. But emotionally satisfying work is still work, and acknowledging it as such doesn’t undermine it in any way. Refusing to acknowledge it, on the other hand, opens the door to exploitation and harms all workers.
This is equally true of what we see in the online communities and social media.
I’ve written two comments over at Sew Mama Sew where I talk about some of my thoughts about this. I’d love it if you joined in the conversation. I’d love it if you read that Slate article and share what you think. If you want to make a living from your work, then it needs to be treated as the business it is, and we need to keep talking about what that means to all of us who participate.
I’m not saying “don’t do what you love,” but what I am saying is that it takes a hell of a lot of work, and requires a clear vision of how to make it an actual business, particularly if you wish it to be profitable.