This week, a new income stream opened up, quite unexpectedly. Several months ago, I sold a photograph through my Flickr account. There was a flurry of paperwork. I signed over the expected permissions and rights, and then waited. And waited. But this week, I got paid. I hadn’t really expected to get paid through my photography, but I did. Particularly not for the photo I took.
It’s a good thing it wasn’t this photograph, which is too dark and blurry, really, to make out what it is — the moon rising full and white over my street, as I walked home from grocery shopping the other day.
This comes back to the entry on the Carmentalia, though, and the power of people to empower themselves to be creative. It was kind of a nuisance to stop in the middle of the street, put down my groceries, take the photo, put the iPhone away, and then pick up my groceries and keep walking. But if I don’t take the time to perform that sort of task, I don’t get the income that photo could possibly generate (who knows, maybe someone will buy this PoS).
We’re capable of being creative all the time. But it is work, and like other sorts of work, it’s not always glamorous in the moment. It’s about cultivating the right attitude toward practice and toward the effort, and it’s not based in any sort of righteous mindset of entitlement. Either you’re working and being creative, or you’re not, at any given moment; and the creative work isn’t going to do itself. Anyone can do data entry, but only you see the world your way.
I saw this presentation with Mike Monteiro. Despite its vulgar title, it got across the concept pretty well, that artists (and by extension, teachers) are not in this for free. We might make beautiful, wonderful things, or teach incredibly well, but those products and services are made of materials and mindset, which cost us time or money or both to acquire. We need food to keep us alive, and of the right kind to keep us healthy, and no one does this sort of work for free or for the joy of it alone.
I think a lot more teachers should take the time to develop their creative talents. Partly it’s about learning to be creative, so that you can give students more opportunities to BE creative and to think creatively. But it’s also about developing alternate income streams, through creative work of various sorts. I think the next decade is going to give most of us — public, private, other — a pretty rough ride, and I worry about how we’re going to manage it. Photography may be one of my paths coming up, or at least one among many. It won’t be the only road, though — there wasn’t enough money in this photograph to count as an income stream yet; it was just a door opening. I just hope more of the same shows up at the door. 🙂