Sunday, May 23, 2010

For love or money...?

I went to a book reading by Jennifer Lee Carrell at Vroman's last night. She's a fantastic thriller and historical fiction writer--her most recent novel, Haunt Me Still, a combination of both. She's as fascinating a speaker as her books are can't-put-'em-down-ers. Haunt Me Still is a modern-day thriller about an American theater director who gets wrapped up in the Bard's witch-hunted Shakespearian play, MacBeth, in London. (Carrell did inform me that typing/reading/writing the word does not beckon dark magic...whew!)

As she spoke of her writing process and journey as a successful writer (her pre-quel to Haunt Me Still, Interred With Their Bones, is an international best-seller) she said she always dreamed of becoming a writer, but figured there was "no money in it." She became a teacher instead. I heard Stephenie Meyer (author of Twilight) say almost the precise same thing during an Oprah interview.

In both of these ladies' cases, it seems that "love" eventually won out. Is this to say that one's destined path will eventually come into fruition if they remain open to it? Or that some people take longer to connect with their true passion than others? The whole love or money question always baffles me to an extent, likely due to my up-bringing. My parents raised my siblings and me to follow our hearts and pursue what we love. Prime example--my brother was on the path of becoming a doctor when he dropped it for art. My parents essentially said, "Yee-ha...Go for it!" He did and he's uber-successful. (Check

My own path has been windy to say the least. When I told my mother I applied for a street singer's permit in Santa Monica she sent me a box of "hippie clothes" and a plaque that reads: "The most beautiful music comes from the heart." Since I've become a full-time writer, she and my dad periodically send books, book reviews from the local MN newspaper and stories I wrote as a child. (If that ain't love, I don't know what is...) When I modeled full-time, I made money at it. Same with acting, same with writing. Granted, I had periods of the proverbial "feast or famine," but for the most part, I've stayed afloat each time I've pursued my passion. (Similarly, I was flat-broke/living on Top Raman during a time I was lost for passion. Apathy is a potentially disease, in my opinion...)

I don't disrespect money as a motivation. I suppose I just don't understand it. I do agree that one must have money and that it plays an important role in life. It just seems to me that it carries more weight in people's lives than is helpful or necessary. I believe our world would hold less pain, anger, frustration, disappointment and cruelty if we lived lives based upon joy and fulfilment rather than climbing a particular status ladder or keeping up with the Joneses. Now is probably the most difficult time in recent years for Americans to pursue their passions, during the financial crisis, but perhaps it's also the most important.

I'd love to hear your thoughts...answers to the cliche but significant question: For love or money?

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