Saying Goodbye To The Starving Artist Lifestyle

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A man must have a mission; this one simple belief drives me through life. Over the past three months I’ve been focusing on my physical, emotional, and spiritual health by getting clean and sober, working out regularly, and doing a lot of soul searching. It’s now obvious that throughout these past five years I haven’t had a specific goal in mind with all this freelance writing business. Where am I going? What is my intention? What value am I bringing to the world? What satisfaction am I gaining from all this?

I’ve been on autopilot, coasting through life without any long term plan, hoping and praying that this is all going to get me somewhere. I see now that after five years of this I haven’t progressed. I am financially, socially, and professionally in pretty much the same place I was when I started down this road. This is not working. I need a mission, and this isn’t it.

Something I don’t talk about often is that I have another education. I went to school for chemical engineering technology and graduated with high honors in 2012. I even took OSAP loans to pay for it. But instead of getting a job in that field I decided (quite stupidly) to become a freelance writer to indulge my creative side, be my own boss, make my own hours, and live the bohemian lifestyle of the literary greats who I’ve always admired.

But the reality of being a writer is not at all like all those movies and books made me to believe. It’s a very lonely profession with little financial reward and even less stability. Being single and having no one to lean on for moral support has been a recipe for depression and madness. Dating has also been nearly impossible because when you tell people you’re a freelance writer they often think that means you’re broke and can’t find a job, and when you’re in your 30s that’s a serious detriment in the dating world. Then there is also the fact that 90% of the time I’ve been too broke to even consider dating anyway. Suffice it to say, this career has been relentlessly cruel and unforgiving to me. I’ve had enough. My chemistry education has been on the backburner for five years, but is it too late to go back?

As it turns out, no it isn’t. This week I’m starting a full time job at Cosmetica Labs in a entry level production position. It’s nothing glamorous, but it is a job and it will provide the stability that I’ve been missing for so long. It also utilizes my chemical engineering education, and I could potentially move up to a better position in the company if I stay long enough.

Finally, no more long and lonely days at my computer. No more waiting for cheques to arrive in the mail. No more stressing out all the time about whether or not I’ll be able to keep up with my bills. I’ll be able to make a budget and stick to it becuase I’ll know exactly how much I’m being paid and when the money is coming! I’ll even have health and dental benefits! Wow!

It’s a change I have been striving for a long time to achieve. It’s a relief to finally be able to put this starving artist nonsense behind me, but I still don’t have a mission. So what is my mission? What am I passionate about?

I have always believed in protecting the environment, and I took chemical engineering technology in the hopes that I could get into an environmental field. The greatest threat to human civilization right now is climate change. I read a long form article on the New York Times about the current climate projections and the consensus indicates by the end of the century, if we keep going the way we’re going, we may not have a habitable planet left. We will have fucked the earth so badly that human life, and most other lifeforms for that matter, will not be able to exist here. The sixth extinction is already underway. We see it everyday in extreme weather events like wildfires, droughts, and flooding. The past three years have all been the hottest on record. The scientific community unanimously agrees that climate change is real and humans are responsible for it. There is no question that we need to stop climate change.

My mission is to stop climate change, and to do that I have to go back to school. Originally it was my intention to continue from Seneca on a degree transfer to obtain a BSc, but I couldn’t do it back then becuase I was in an enormous amount of credit card debt. Now things are different. Soon I will have paid off my debt settlement and going back to school will be a real possibility. I will be able to achieve those goals and pursue my mission as I should have been all along.

I’m putting the starving artist life behind me and saying goodbye to freelance writing. I have a couple clients who may offer assignments from time to time, and I may take them for the extra cash if I can fit into my schedule, but as far as Riddell Creative goes this is the end of the line becuase the fact is that I’m not getting anywhere, I’m not happy doing this, and there’s no future in this line of work. Freelance writing is a low pay, low rent, low respect profession with zero benefits and stability where most clients treat you as a disposable resource rather than a valued member of the team.

I have to do something more meaningful with my life, and I can think of nothing more meaningful than stopping climate change. That is my mission.

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