I’m not a full time Druid in the sense of it being a career for me, I’ve never sought to be and do not think I ever would be. For a start there is no need round here for me to do that. Nor am I a full time author – and again, never have been and never will be. Partly because it’s useful to have some steadier income streams that do not depend wholly on my creative skills. Partly because I get bored and seek challenges. I also tend to say yes when people need volunteers.
Earlier in the year I started talking about how I was struggling with my creative work – I’m still struggling, but seeking ways forwards. I was very surprised by just how many people assumed I must be trying to make a living full time as an author. Very few authors are actually full time, partly because there’s seldom that much money in it, and partly because of the need for something to write about. You have to live a bit, I’ve always thought, if you want a reservoir of raw material to draw on.
I’ve done a lot of voluntary work along the way – Druid Network, Pagan Federation, school PTAs, tree planting, running a folk club, moots and rituals. I spent a lot of years being an editor. For the last year I’ve been a press officer for the Green Party, (part time). I’ve busked and gigged, I do a lot of stalls, talks, workshops… and of late I’ve taken on running several blogs for John Hunt Publishing – more an administrative role than a creative one, but I get to support excellent people in getting their work better known.
The Druidry does impact on the day jobs. It makes me reluctant to show up to anything that I consider unethical, or that isn’t worthwhile in some way. It inclines me to say yes to jobs that need doing even when there is no way anyone can pay me, or pay me what I’m worth. Charities and community groups can’t afford flashy marketing people. I prefer being self employed because I can fit that round being a parent and this is important to me. I did not have a child so that others could raise him. I’m not that invested in material things – again connected to the Druidry – so I don’t hanker after vast paychecks.
I find it curious that we so often tend to define ourselves and each other with one label – and that it is generally assumed that one label defines our working lives. ‘Author’ for so many people means ‘full time paid author’ with the only alternative being to have failed because you can’t get it to pay all the bills. We are also too quick to equate ‘unemployed’ with ‘not doing anything useful’ – failing to take into account the vast array of social and volunteering contributions made by people who are not working or money.
Many of us are more than one thing. It makes for a richer and more interesting life to be a number of things. At the moment I spend more time making rag rugs than I do books. That’s all about re-use, creativity and sustainable living, which is all about being a Druid, but not in the sense that anyone pays me for it. Of course if I was able to sell rugs for hundreds of pounds a throw, no doubt I would become a rag rugger who happened to be a Druid, in some people’s minds.
Who we are should not be defined purely by what someone else will pay us to do.