When I’m not writing (which is most of the time), I have a job – a profession; a career, so to speak. I recently changed roles in my company, and although I’m really not looking for other jobs, I took the opportunity to make a few changes to my LinkedIn profile, update my status, etc.
It reminded me of a few years ago, when I started considering writing as a viable career option (I’m still not sure if it is, to be perfectly honest), and I was looking to create a LinkedIn profile for myself as an author. You see, whilst I do have a professional account for my ‘real’ job, I work for a reasonably high-profile company, and as such I have to be careful about what I say and do outside of work, in case it appears as representative of my company. Given that the job of ‘author’ is essentially about speaking my mind and telling the truth as I see it, this could potentially cause a conflict with my position at work, and that’s not something I’m willing to compromise.
The problem is this: LinkedIn have a very strict policy regarding multiple accounts. Although I could, yes, create a second, unrelated account for myself as a writer, if LinkedIn were able to connect the two accounts (via profile information, IP addresses, or whatever), not only could I lose both, but I could be banned from LinkedIn entirely. A LinkedIn profile, it seems, is directly tied to an individual person, and all the professional things that individual does.
With a world of possibilities, it seems society is still geared to catering to just one at a time.
The fundamental flaw in this setup is that it really caters to an outdated, linear view of career progression: that you move from job to job, company to company, and you don’t start one career until you’re done with another. This is fine if your career is your life, but I think that, for the majority of people, their passion in life lies often outside of what they do for a living. And whilst many of those people will never act on their passion, for those that do – for those who want to make a career out of passion, and not just skill – there’s very little opportunity to build a profile around your passion whilst still working a day job.
I’ll give you an example: let’s say you’ve worked for a globally-recognized coffee brand for fifteen years. You’ve worked your way up the corporate ladder, from employee to manager to district or maybe even regional director, and you aren’t really in a position to give that up. But on the side, you really, really love drawing political cartoons. Maybe you’ve sold a few – under a pseudonym – and it looks like a promising opportunity. But until you are able to match your $75K salary from drawing, you can’t quit your main job. And for as long as you work for a major brand, you can’t be seen to publicly affiliate with any one political view or another, for fear of representing the entire brand.
What do you do? With a world of possibilities, it seems society is still geared to catering to just one at a time. I can’t represent myself professionally as a writer and an employee, and so I’m forced to choose between one career or the other. Everything I do on one side has to be carefully and meticulously kept separate from the other. The corporate me, the writer me, and even the musician me, can’t really coexist.
Even within writing, I’ve chosen to keep two identities – because my fantasy work is so very different to my YA/literary work. And while I don’t really mind ‘cross-contamination’ – I’ll happily reference both sets of work on here or on cmnorthauthor.com – it’s another example of how society simply doesn’t expect an individual person to have multiple passions, careers, or possibilities. Imagine if Stephen King tried to sell and market a beach-bum romance novel; under his real name people would simply be confused, but by adopting a pseudonym (as he did with Richard Bachman, for example) he can publish genres that would typically be considered outside of his wheelhouse.
It does make life frustrating at times, however; I try to commit to writing under both Satis and C.M. North, but time is prohibitive, and managing two blogs is twice the effort of managing one. I have two Instagram accounts, two Twitter accounts … the list goes on.
In the end, I don’t want to sacrifice my passion or my vision to practicality – however tempting – and so I have little choice but to soldier on as both Satis and C.M. North, as well as a professional representative of a major corporation, and simply hope my paths remain parallel.
What are the limitations of your pursuits? What stops you from putting your all into one thing or another? Or are you able to combine your career with your passion, and get everything done in one go?