Saturday, October 4, 2014

The "Can I Make a Living Doing What I Love?" Experiment (#10: Two Months In)

by Pam Victor

[The "Can I Make a Living Doing What I Love?" Experiment is my one-year challenge to make a living through creative pursuits. Read all the updates here.]

I'm two months into my experiment, and things seem to be financially on target so far. I actually exceeded my monthly goal for September a bit, more than making up for the little shortfall I had in August. I have far more work to do than hours in the day. Most of that work is paid at least a little. A goodly chunk of the work is an investment in future jobs - such as, promotion for gigs and classes, updating websites, and sending in proposals for potential jobs. Some of the work is more for fun than profit, like my Geeking Out with... interviews. (Did you read the Jason Shotts interview? That one was a surprising delight! I was scared he was going to be a gruff, intimidating guy, but he turned out to be a super smart, articulate, gentle man.) Also under the unpaid-but-worth-it category were the live interview shows that I performed at District Improv Festival (Washington D.C.) last week and the Boston Comedy Arts Festival the week before. Oh, and I'm helping my son apply to college for next year, but let's not talk about the financials of that endeavor please.

When visiting my little brother in D.C. last weekend, I told him about the various jobs and projects I'm doing and he quite simply said, "That's too much. That is just too much." 

I can see what he means. I can feel it in my weary bones. But I'm determined to ignore the exhaustion and how much I want to spend more evenings at home watching The Good Wife with my husband. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming, right?

Since my experiment started on two months ago, here are jobs I've been paid for:
  • teaching three different weekly academic classes to elementary school-aged homeschoolers
  • teaching a weekly improv class for adults
  • taught an improv workshop
  • taught a week-long improv class for teens
  • organizing and facilitating a bunch of comedy workshops
  • I have not been a good wife.
    But finding a new series to
    watch with my husband might make
    a better wife!
  • performing nine improv shows! 
Plus, I'm working as a project manager on a book project (haven't yet been paid but I've worked billable hours), I'm set to start teaching a weekly improv class for teens next week (barely enough kids registered so it's a bit of a six-week, investment-in-the-future project), and I'm about to open registration for my next series of weekly improv classes for adults (that one will fill quickly). I also have one active proposal for an improv-based class being considered by a local business, and I have two more proposals that I need to write and send in to other places (fingers crossed).

Teaching is definitely the biggest source of income so far, but I am the most proud of the paid improv gigs. Paid improv, you guys! In the last two months, nine of the times I've performed, I walked away with money in my pocket. It's like I found a unicorn that poops magic fairy dust! It's loooooong been my dream, my visualization, to perform that often with the quality of improvisers I've been lucky enough to share the stage. Even if I don't keep up this dreamy rate, I am extraordinarily grateful (so grateful!!!) to be in that position now. I am here to tell you, fellow improvisers and theater managers, it is possible.

Today is Saturday. Even though I was coma-inducing exhausted after our show last night, I couldn't sleep past 6:30 this morning. Very frustrating. I'm kind of stressed out. I have too many thoughts about last night's show - our first one in a regular theater in a small town that has never seen improv - and how to expand and improve our work for our show there next month. So I'll work today. And maybe a little on Sunday. But I really am looking forward to sitting on the couch and watching The Good Wife with my husband for at least a couple hours this weekend ...

* * *

Pam Victor is the founding member of The Ha-Ha’s, and she produces The Happier Valley Comedy Show in western Massachusetts. Pam performs  "Geeking Out with: The TALK SHOW," a live version of the written Geeking Out with... interview series, at comedy festivals throughout the land. Pam writes mostly humorous, mostly true essays and reviews of books, movies, and tea on her blog, "My Nephew is a Poodle." Currently, Pam is finishing up work on "Improvisation at the Speed of Life: The TJ and Dave Book" with co-authors TJ Jagodowski and David Pasquesi. 

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