If you are an artist, chances are you have (or have had) your fair share of survival jobs. If you’re lucky, your survival job is something you actually love doing. If you’re extra lucky, you make enough money with your art, in which case I hate you. (Not actually. I’m just jealous. Rock on, you path forger.)
My survival job of choice for the past two years during and post college has been the restaurant biz. It’s made the most sense for me; it’s usually flexible, I mostly work nights so I can audition during the day, and we get fed after shifts. Any job that includes food is likely to hook me in, let’s be real. I have lots of friends who prefer the babysitting/nannying/mannying route, which does sound super fun and rewarding (most times). The main thing that’s kept me away from that is my tendency to abandon all responsibility by fleeing the country for a few weeks every so often. Um, I mean traveling. My love for traveling.
Honestly, there are a lot of things about serving that I actually enjoy. I like talking to people – usually customers are friendly and happy to be in your place of employment. Sometimes they’re not, and some people are rude for seemingly no reason, but luckily I’m an actor. I can act just as happy to serve them as everyone else.
Also on the whole I work with awesome people. I met my boyfriend at work, for example! As well as some of my closest friends. Together we question the meaning of our lives and cry about how much the art we love typically pays.
I also love food. I am genuinely excited to talk about food, especially when it’s good food. Which the food at my places of employment is. So there’s that. And overall, these places are strong communities. We understand each other and take care of one another, for the most part.
Lately, however, I’ve been working a LOT. I was hired at a new restaurant that’s still in the process of filling its staff, so between that and my other job I’m going on ten days of work in a row. Financially, this is great, especially because I’ve recently returned from traveling and have a couple more trips planned in the coming months (see paragraph two). What this has been doing for my sanity is questionable.
Thankfully, I am a writer. I can write from anywhere, anytime. I am currently writing in a coffee shop around the corner from the shift that I start in an hour. I especially love late night writing, so this schedule honestly works for me. Thankfully, I can still audition.
Having zero nights free, however, makes it tough to see plays. It makes it tough to grab dinner or a drink with a friend (unless your friend wants to wait until midnight to meet up after work), and since working late means sleeping late, the hours in my day sometimes seem to evaporate.
So. I’m currently working out how to feed my artistic soul with this crazy schedule. I know it’s not going to last forever- though at the moment it feels like it will. Writing every day definitely helps. Reading plays, which I do for yet another job of mine (this time a passion job), also helps a lot. Going to EPAs just to flex those acting muscles helps.
Ideally one day, hopefully soon, my art will pay my rent. My fingers are perpetually crossed for my first novel getting picked up, and to book more acting jobs. I’m young and driven, which helps. But I’m also prone to a lot of career based anxiety, which does not help. I’m fairly confident that I’ll figure out the balance of living the way I want to live while also fulfilling WHY I’m on the earth. So thank you for listening/reading, and if you can relate or have any advice to give, please share! I’m big on community, especially lately, and on artists helping each other. Heck, on humans helping other humans.
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Tallie Gabriel is an actor, writer, and BookHive social media maven. She’s a member of InViolet Theatre and Artistic Assistant of BEDLAM Theatre in NYC.