Years ago, while watching the PBS News Hour, a poet laureate was interviewed about his body of work and his writing process. The poet explained that he got up at about 5:30 in the morning to write before going to work as an insurance salesman. When the news anchor respectfully expressed surprise that the poet laureate had a job other than being a poet, the laureate explained a poem published in the best magazine wouldn’t buy you more than a bag of groceries. What he said stayed with me.
I wondered how the poet felt while he was selling insurance. Did he resent that he couldn’t make a living doing what he loved? Did he feel a tension between the two, or did he compartmentalize his day? Was he always writing poetry in his mind? Did the brevity of time he had to write make him more productive? Did he not mind selling insurance? How did he define himself? Did the poet feel successful? Was being named a poet laureate enough?
Read Wednesday’s post to see what William Bridges, the author and transition coach, says about pursuing financial gains and ignoring our passion.