Drinking Coffee Creamer: Thoughts on the Starving Artist Years

Today I am looking for a new job. A real job. The kind where you trade in your name tag and standardized dress code, for a pair of heels and a running line of credit at New York and Company.

I haven’t done this in a long time. Not really, anyway. I’ve been caught up in writing and ministry for the last seven years, and between the two, and the occasional trained monkey job when the fancy struck, I’ve managed decently.

I’ve been grateful for these last years. They have been my starving artist years. I am so grateful to have been able to have had them. So many artists find themselves caught up so quickly in the corporate world, they never even get to have these years. This time was everything being a starving artist is supposed to be. Glorious at times and difficult other times.

There was a whole year, I lived on instant oatmeal and coffee. Then there was one day where I was out of coffee, the tap water was unfit for drinking, and I had seriously had nothing in the fridge to drink. So, I drank coffee creamer. It wasn’t like I could do anything else with it.

But, I didn’t care. I was churning out material like a boss. The hunger pangs, and the nauseating sugar rush of pure creamer were the price to pay for artistic accomplishment. I was doing everything I was created to do. And for that, I will never regret.

In that time, I wrote a novel, and I am now in talks with agents. I self-published a poetry book. I was published in the one magazine that has been on my bucket list since I was ten years old…along with a number of other credits and accomplishments. And for all of this, the instant oatmeal, and years of flip-flops, bad cars and walking for transportation was worth it.

But, I have found that I have gone as far with my writing as I know to do on my own. It’s all a waiting game for publication now, and until the calls for six-figured advances start rolling in, I have decided to do something else for a season.

I will continue to pursue writing professionally, but I have decided I am done being a starving artist. Those years were beautiful. But this is a new time. And I’m tired of being a trained monkey.


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