Rob’s Progress: How Can Anyone Else Care About This Stuff?

In my last post, I went through the play I’ve been doing lately and my endeavours to monetise it. But I think it’s easy to talk about progress without mentioning what stops us from making it.

I remember talking with Mal of KerSplatt Comics and Collectables about his fantastic drawing and digital colouring skills. Mal has a profile on DeviantArt where he puts his works up; not only that, he’ll even do work for commission. I asked him about getting paid to draw once, and he told me that he had a hard time charging for the time he put into drawing for others, mostly because he saw it as cheating.

I think we all have that problem.

We honestly think that we’re somehow ripping other people off when we ask for cash for doing the things that we do. This is, I think, in part because we’ve been educated to believe that “work” must be something that you don’t particularly care for; that you’re getting paid as much for the emotional effort of doing something that doesn’t matter to you as you are for the value your employer has of your skills and talents.

But it’s not just that idea; there’s the idea that outside of “work” you don’t really have anything meaningful to offer.

I struggle with that all the time, particularly when I’m working out how to get paid to play myself. I find myself coming back to the same question: If the aim of a business is to help people with the things that pain or frustrate them in their lives, how do I find out what the pains of other people are, and what skills do I possess that can help solve them?

I think that’s one of the problems with the Mountain of Knowledge that Tim Reid talks about, the idea that we all have these tons of know-how and skill that could be of use to others, but because we’re standing on top of the mountain and looking out, we don’t have the perspective to understand exactly what’s under our feet and how we can mine it for others.

And when we do look down at the mountain under our feet and assay its mineral content, our skills, our joys – they all seem so frivolous.

How the hell is any of this going to be of use to anyone else? It makes me happy, sure, but how can other folks find the same joy in it or use it to solve a problem of their own?

Take me. I record and publish this podcast. I’ve written the odd story, drawn the odd comic, painted the odd miniature, played the odd video and board game. May day jobs have been office-based. From the inside, I often struggle with seeing how any of that translates into a skill that someone else would want to hire, or a product that they’d want to buy. I mean, I’ve got friends who dig what I do, sure, but no one would really care outside of them, right?


What’s your play?

Does any of the above seem familiar?

How do you feel about the things you love doing? How do you struggle, or how have you struggled, with the idea that other folks can find a use for / joy in those things?