I came across an impassioned argument against seeking a secure “day job” by French novelist Gustave Flaubert and was reminded of an influential book I read some years ago by Lewis Hyde entitled “The Gift” which explores, in great depth, the struggle to both be creative and also pay the bills in a market-based economy.
A story about Hyde in the NY TIMES described the dilemma like this:
In the course of writing “The Gift,” Hyde underwent an intellectual transformation on this subject. He began the work believing there was “an irreconcilable conflict” between gift exchange and the market; the enduring (if not necessarily the happy) artist was the one who most successfully fended off commercial demands. By the time he was finished, Hyde had come to a less-dogmatic conclusion. It was still true, he believed, that the marketplace could destroy an artist’s gift, but it was equally true that the marketplace wasn’t going anywhere; it had always existed, and it always would. The key was to find a good way to reconcile the two economies.
I found the book to be interesting and inspiring, even though it’s not an especially easy read — Hyde’s keen intellect and the broad scope of his arguments can be intimidating in places.