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Money? Who needs money?

“I cannot afford to waste my time making money.”–Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz

Creativity TEST
Taz made this cool meme from a creativity test in the book.

I’m speaking tomorrow at Marc Allen’s Summer Writing Workshop.  To prepare, I re-read my 2017 book, Art & Soul, Reloaded. It was Taz’s favorite of my 20 books and, in fact, I dedicated it to: “Taz, the most creative person I know.”

One of the sections details the many myths about being a writer, the first of which seemed like a fitting excerpt for a rainy Monday morning. Enjoy!

I am forever grateful I never ran across the famous French novel Scènes de la vie de Bohème by Henri Murger.

I’d have probably loved the novel that was wildly popular in the mid-19th century. Revolving around a group of impoverished artists who lived in the bohemian quarter of Paris, this bestseller spawned Giacomo Puccini’s 1895 opera La Bohème and is widely credited as being the catalyst for the now-household term starving artist. Like Rocky and Bullwinkle, pancakes and syrup, the words starving and artist have been joined at the hip ever since. How many posters have you seen for starving artist shows or starving artist sales?

But it’s an exceedingly dangerous belief for any artist to subscribe. And it’s the first of our list to meet the chopping block. Using these words, even as a joke, perpetuates an energy field that does none of us any good. It cements an antiquated belief that (a) you can’t make art without money (so untrue, it’s preposterous), and (b) if you’re an artist, you’ll always be broke.

Luckily for me, I didn’t buy either maxim.

I was naïve enough to believe I could make a living as a writer. Without a trust fund. Without a bunch of savings in the bank. Without really anything but my own fool imagination.

You might have noticed my last name is not Rockefeller. Not only did I grow up with a glaring lack of silver spoons, but my father was a poorly paid Methodist minister in a tiny town in Kansas.

It was very clear to me that if I was going to reach my dream of being an author, of inspiring the masses with my words, I would have to rely on a different kind of capital. I would have to amass creative capital.

This unique retirement plan has been my saving grace, especially since I didn’t fare exceptionally well in the ranks of corporate America. Even after securing a college degree, my one concession to the normal paradigm, I bristled at thoughts of a “real job.” Even a semicorporate job (a theme park that, at the time, was owned by Lamar Hunt, the guy who owned the Kansas City Chiefs) frowned on my choice of footwear and my “let’s throw it out there and see what happens” attitude.

I’ve never felt the need for surveys, market research, and prescribed plans that, sure, might work for someone, but offer no guarantees for me. I prefer traipsing to the well of the unknown, the river of infinite potentiality, the field of the brand-new.

That’s not to say I always believed in myself. That would be like saying van Gogh didn’t suffer mental illness.

But between bouts of lying in bed and staring at my ceiling fan, I found the wherewithal to believe I could create work that someone might enjoy. Between thoughts of unworthiness and self-pity, I believed I could devise creative capital with nothing but a good idea.

I was able to self-publish not one, but two books. I put them out there even though I was a single mom with a three-year-old (for the first one) and a seven-year-old (during the production of the second one).

It’s one thing to call myself a freelance writer when it was just me, sharing homes with friends, trotting around the globe. But when I became a parent, it was expected I would settle down, be realistic, get a real job.

I am very grateful I didn’t listen to the conventional paradigm.

Because here’s the thing. You don’t need money to be an artist. You need but one thing. Persistence to keep getting up off the floor where you sometimes lie (or at least I did) with your face pressed against the cold concrete, moaning, “What was I thinking?” You just keep getting up and taking the next step.

When you have no budget, you’re forced to get creative. You have to find new and interesting ways to get things done. Like collaborating with others, like trading services.

Money offers a leg up, but it’s far from imperative. #222 Forever

Pam Grout is the author of 20 books including E-Squared, E-Cubed, Thank & Grow Rich and her latest book, The Course in Miracles Experiment: A Starter Kit for Rewiring Your Mind (And Therefore Your World).

41 Responses

  1. We know it on an intellectual level but the old paradigm keeps popping back up like the one, “you have to work hard to make a living”. It sounds so easy to overcome. A little more difficult when those that ‘Love’ you beat the potential right out of you. I know I’m not alone here. I want to accept this in my body more strongly than the old tapes that played for more than 60 years. There is no posse here, just a few virtual friends that encourage. Most days that’s enough to keep me going. You help keep me going too. My posse of one.

  2. I have your book and maybe it’s time to reread it! I’m an artist and have grown by leaps and bounds this past year. I have a storefront now and it’s exciting, things are settling slowly. I am more persistent then I’ve ever been in my life. I love putting things in their that people can come and purchase and they do!

  3. My best “capital” is my joy and ease and flow, totally egotistical, self-loving, individual (= undividable). And my only “job,” if at all, is to switch to that wonderful mode out of which everything takes best creative care of itself. I feel that’s what “the world” or “my world” (the world perceived here) needs or wants most. Effort and struggle and supposed knowledge of how things are or should be, begone! That’s the art, and there must be a way of living like that; it’s just too good to not be true :). And if I don’t “succeed” at that all the time, that’s fine, too. Life expresses itself through us, as us, in any moment, however this may look like. It’s always enough and all right. How could it not be!? <3

  4. This was a good article, Pam. I just recently lost my job thanks to the COVID pandemic, and I find it rather interesting that this happened while I was focusing my intention on doing something I was passionate about. I guess my vibration shifted away from the work I was doing, and now I’m sitting in the unknown waiting for my next phase to materialize. It’s really challenged me to focus on ways to bring about the circumstances necessary to do what I really want to do, so I really feel your message here.

    1. So glad. Perhaps I posted it just for you. Funny how the universe works. While I hate to be cheeky, I have to say that losing my job (I just wasn’t serious enough, so said my boss) was one of the best things to ever happen to me.

  5. I’m very grateful for your column today. Not only do you make me smile, sometimes laugh out loud but helps me refocus. Thank you.

  6. Perfect. Thank you! The Universe always provides for me exactly what I need at the exact right time. As much as I talk about wanting more money, I must not want it as every moment, I do have exactly what I need…and maybe my life lesson this time around is about being creative and living in the moment, talking to the plants and trees and everything else. Accepting the beauty and magic of each moment of my day, no matter what is happening around me. Creating a bubble of happiness and peace while there is chaos everywhere else, that is what I choose to create. And the miracles happen daily.

  7. Thank you Pam. You always deliver the most insightful, relevant words that make my heart sing. Love you xx

  8. Great post Pam. Its true you have to keep believing in your ideas! And worth, and not indulge in niggly self doubt 💛

  9. As lockdown has intensified here in Melbourne I have been intending to get this book out for the last 3 or 4 days. This is certainly a sign that it is a must do today.
    Thanks Pam. As always you bring awesomeness to my life.

  10. I love how the universe has timed this post of yours so perfectly for so many people. Your story inspires me to let go of my fear of not having what I need to be the creative soul that I actually already am, and to just “be” her anyway. Be that woman in every moment until the outside matches the inside. Amen. Thankyou Pam – you are a delicious light in our world, and I’m very grateful for you. ☀️

  11. Hey, I love that you are one of the authors giving the writing workshop! YAY! Art &Soul Reloaded is also one of my favorites. The most important lesson I leaned from that book was to always “show up for the muses”!! What a huge impact it has had on my writing.
    I can’t thank you enough, my friend! I will always smoke what you’re selling! ❤️🙂
    💜2❤️2🧡2💙 Forever

  12. I’m very glad you didn’t take any notice of settling down , blah, blah, blah… quite apart from it being bonkers (incidentally I loved “God Doesn’t Have Bad Hair Days” before you reissued it in its new clothes and bought two copies) the world is full of artists who weren’t born with silver spoons and have also spent a lot of time face downwards wondering if they were slightly bonkers. You have given all of us (well me anyway0 a load of laughs and a much more interesting introduction to the fact that you don’t have to starve in a garret or be born with a Trust Fund —not that I wouldn’t have enjoyed the challenge of spending the lot anyway–to be creative or that the Universe has more ways than one of supporting you. Carry on and keep on laughing ! I, for one, just keep on buying your stuff and giving it away….ACIM is full of wisdom but is probably the world’s second most unread worthy book just pipped by Stephen Hawking’s tome which I have read and I KNOW.

  13. Thank-you Pam, again words that are timely to me today.
    I question my ability to call myself a writer. I wrote one, and working on number two.
    But when I question myself as who the hell do I think I am to have anything to say, that’s when I shut down. I than decide I will have a big bomb fire in my backyard and burn all my journals, notes, three ring binders full of words. Thank-you for clearing up my fog this morning. I too buy ACIM to gift to others. Your message of get up dust yourself off and get back in the game is wisdom that will help us all deal with whatever is hurled our way.


  15. Hi Pam,
    Our Job One is to create, no matter what medium we use.
    Coding has been mine for about 40 years. Am now transitioning to fiction.
    BTW, I am enjoying The Course in Miracles Experiment. Gob bless you with your infinite fountain of positiveness.
    Writing has not been a challenge for me; I have a finished manuscript; navigating self publishing has been overwhelming. I figure I’ll receive the appropriate directions at the right time. Nonetheless, any tips?
    Love Light!

  16. Thank you Pam!

    A memory of my high-school guidance counselor popped up in my head.
    When I told him I was thinking about applying to art-school, he said to me:

    ‘Do you want to be a starving artist all your life? Because that is what you will be. You are intelligent, you should do something that can earn you a living.’

    So… I didn’t go to art-school… oops.

    But today; inspired by you my muse; I send that Guidance Counselor (he is not really worthy of this title) to the metaphorical chopping block. I know it may sound a bit gruesome (because it totally is), but to quote my queen of hearts:

    ‘Off with his head!’

    I am abundantly going to paint today 😀

    1. Hurray! 😀 Enjoy! “Guidance counselor”, how ironic! Maybe it’s not the worst thing to be a bit gruesome here and there, in a constructive, clear, know-what-I-want sense … <3

      1. Yes! Thank you so much Dorothea, you offer more guidance in two lines then that ‘Pessimist Counselor’ ever offered. I have painted a couple of little canvas harts, but more importantly I painted an abundance of artistic possibilities in my mind. It was so much fun!

        You are right about the gruesomeness, it can be constructive. Sometimes by saying no to something, it opens op an opportunity to something else. I now for example have become more creative in my healing sessions. We are all artists, we don’t even need a paintbrush for that 😀

  17. Hello Pam,

    We have not met personally, although I have followed you for years. I am currently reading The Course In Miracles Experiment in conjunction with the Course In Miracles book, and the daily workbook lessons read by Marianne Williamson! I have started and stopped reading The Course in Miracle for 20 plus years pairing with your book is a classic combination!

    I am also on the E-Squared Facebook practicing group which has been so much fun watching in awe everything that is manifesting. I LOVE it all!

    Within the last week, I have connected with Jewels Johnson from the Law of Attraction talk radio network. Simply to inquire about her show, and now I have a radio spot. Truly divine intervention.

    The purpose of the email is to ask if you would have the time and the willingness to be my first guest on the show. It is my wish that everyone does not get so caught up in the perfection of the should of, would of, could of’s. And I can not think of a better way than to hear from your perspective.

    As I picked up my phone and headed to my computer. the time on my phone was 2:22 pm. At that point, I just knew I needed to follow through with my email request!

    I look forward to hearing back from you.

    Much love and many miracles your way



    “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. Albert Einstein


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