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Creatives and the Cost of Living

People often think that being a writer, a journalist, a creative and artist is sexy. 

And the people themselves, we are sexy. How we create, that’s very sexy too. However, the life of writers and people who chronicle humanity through whatever medium, has a lot of pain and struggle that goes along with it.

Folks joke about the pained, struggling artist, but there’s truth to that. The grind keeps creatives humble, and even if they do reach massive success, being a creative knowing there is no cap or no limit on creativity, if they are true to their art or craft, they will keep stretching and reaching and changing things up to try to be the best at what they are doing.

I was able to do a lot of leisure reading and I came across two very interesting, yet different stories on two types of creatives living and working in New York City.

The first article I came across was about how folks from all over the world come to New York City in hopes of becoming writers, working in the publishing industry or fashion or whatever, working a second job they didn’t love to pay rent in a small apartment with about five other people.

But these days, with the average apartment costing $3,000 a month, folks wanting to move to NYC to follow their dreams often find the dream is harder to reach when you want to actually eat and have a half way decent roof over your head in a safe-ish, crime-adjacent, neighborhood.

There are a bunch of articles that have been floating around about this very problem.



And in these articles, the authors suggests to young creatives to look outside of New York.

I actually agree.

I cut my journalistic teeth in cities like Washington, D.C., Detroit, and all over the state of Mississippi. And in those places, especially in Mississippi, I worked on my craft and was able to live very well due to the low cost of living. (Two bedrooms two baths for $525 and yes, this was in 2005, thank you very much)

No. Those places did not have the hustle and bustle of NYC, but in their own rights, they had very real individual, identity which makes all of those places near and dear to my heart. So don’t count them out.

Creatives are now flocking to Detroit and to the south in places like New Orleans, creating thriving creative communities, building their reputations and portfolios and enjoying less expensive housing, food and living expenses, and from there, if they want, they can make the big jump to other places.

Speaking of preparation and planning and starting small. I was struck by this story. http://fashionista.com/2013/12/keija-minor-brides/

Keija Minor, Editor-in-Chief of Brides Magazine, well, she wasn’t a poor upstart when she left a six-figure law firm salary to become an intern for a small travel magazine, but she employed planning and starting small to get her dream job in the publishing/creative world. Her humility was the most refreshing part of this.

I also felt this way about NBA basketball player Rajon Rondo, who took his internship with GQ very seriously. I tip my hat to people who have more than one passion or interest and have the guts to take the time to nurture that, even if they are really good at what they are already doing.

Minor was already well-established and by normal, regular working people standards, well off and highly successful. But it took a lot of effort and dedication to decide to squirrel away enough money to pay her mortgage for one year, while she looked for and secured an internship with a publication. Most of us can’t take such a leap strictly for financial reason and you know, needing food and shelter. 

I had a good laugh to myself because Minor expressed some of the sacrifices she had to make. Splurge purchases were a no-go during this time. 

“The same week I left the firm, I saw the new Marc Jacobs handbag, the Stella bag, in Barneys. I called my best friend and said, ‘Remind me why I’m doing this?’ ‘Because you want to be happy,’ she said. I did not buy the bag — I later did — but I never had another moment.”

I laughed because folks who are not as well of as her would be lamenting to their homegirl, “Yeah, no Starbucks for me this week… or EVER.”

Or, “Oh no, I’m not hungry. I got this ramen. It tastes DOES better with hot sauce.”

And while I’m poking a bit of fun at Ms. Minor, it made me think of micro ways us regular folks can take risks to with proper dedication, planning and determination.

In the movie “The Great Debaters” one of the young debaters quotes his dad who always reminds him, “We do what we have to do, so we can do what we want to do.”

Ms. Minor, and the gazillions of people who work jobs they dislike, but with purpose do just that. They see the bigger picture, and most importantly in that picture, they don’t see themselves where they currently are forever. There is an expiration date.

And for Ms. Minor, I presume that date was when she secured enough for her mortgage for a year as well as her living expenses. Go girl. Suze Orman would probably give you dap for that.

2014 is going to be a year of the grind for me, and strategic planning. I need to get serious about a number of things I took for granted and get back to the days of old where I had a worn planner that I wrote every little thing down in.

A good friend of mine had reminded me of that planner that held together one of the most hectic years of my entire life. I’d actually forgotten that I was, “that chick.”

Well that chick is about to resurface.

A wonderful friend of mine is about to set out on a journey and live a life-long dream of living in New York. She’s also a creative. I read the first couple of articles, and I was sincerely worried for her. I even thought of sending her the articles, not to crush her dreams, but just out of concern.

Then I stopped myself.

My friend did step out on faith and I believe in having faith and knowing sometimes that’s really all you need. And if I believe in faith, I believe my friend has the faith that it takes to pull off such an effort.

There was no point in making a friend who was already a bit nervous about such a drastic change more concerned. And I certainly didn’t want her to think I wasn’t supportive. She was preparing for this, doing her research and she secured an apartment. So that makes me even more confident she’ll be just fine. That was the hard part, in my opinion.

I didn’t want to write about New Year’s Resolutions, or promises. I don’t want to be the first person in the gym today. I may just work out at home. I don’t want to bum rush the grocery store to buy nothing but veggies. But I do want to make incremental changes that will last.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Let’s just do our thing this year. Let’s feel good about who we are. Remind ourselves of how far we’ve come, and allow ourselves to dream. And once we dream, we can plan, and once we plan we can do.

So let’s do, shall we?

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2 thoughts on “Creatives and the Cost of Living

  1. Great article and very inspiring for a fellow creative!

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