Basically, he says, creative people have two jobs. One is the ‘sexy’ kind, the other pays the rent. If you’re really lucky these intersect at some point, but that kind of luck doesn’t grow on trees.
Anyway, MacLeod is quite a funny guy (and you should check out his blog called gapingvoid), so I’ll let him explain the theory himself (and if you take anything away from this, go and read his book):
A good example is Phil, a NY photographer friend of mine. He does really wild stuff for the indie magazines– it pays nothing, but it allows him to build his portfolio. Then he’ll go off and shoot some catalogues for a while. Nothing too exciting, but it pays the bills.
Another example is somebody like Martin Amis. He writes “serious” novels, but he has to supplement his income by writing the occasional newspaper article for the London papers (novel royalties are bloody pathetic– even bestsellers like Amis aren’t immune).
Or actors. One year Travolta will be in an ultra-hip flick like Pulp Fiction (“Sex”), the next he’ll be in some dumb spy thriller (“Cash”).
It’s balancing the need to make a good living while still maintaining one’s credibility. My M.O. is gapingvoid (“Sex”), coupled with writing advertising (“Cash”).
I’m thinking about the young writer who has to wait tables to pay the bills, in spite of her writing appearing in all the cool literary magazines.… who dreams of one day of not having her life divided so harshly.
Well, over time the “harshly” bit might go away, but not the “divided”. As soon as you accept this, for some reason your career starts moving ahead faster. I don’t know why this happens. It’s the people who refuse to cleave their lives this way– who just want to start Day One by quitting their current crappy job and moving straight on over to best-selling author. Well, they never make it.
Anyway, it’s called “The Sex & Cash Theory”. Keep it under your pillow.
MacLeod’s “thing”, by the way, is drawing cartoons on business cards. His book is full of them, and makes for some pretty entertaining reading. Go on. Read it.