Sue Shellenbarger wrote an interesting – to me, at least, and given the blog posts I’ve read lately about our creative endeavors, interesting to some of you on the same blog circuit as me – article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal: Lesson From Buffett On Following Dreams.
Seems that Warren Buffett, the richest man in America (or maybe the world, I forget which, but he’s right up there), gave his 19 year old son Peter “enough [money] to do anything, but not enough to do nothing.”
His son promptly dropped out of college, set up a music studio and began playing the piano, writing music, and experimenting with electronic sounds. He’s been successful enough that he’s now (this is Peter Buffett, not Jimmy – I have no idea if they are related) an Emmy Award-winning musician.
And now, of course, he’s written a book, and this, I guess, is the ‘lesson’ of the article. “If I had faced the necessity of making a living from day one, I would not have been able to follow the path I chose,” he wrote.
Shellenbarger, who writes regularly on juggling work and family, followed that statement with this one of her own: “If someone had given me the gift of time, for example, as Mr. Buffett did for his son, I imagine I would have squandered it writing bad novels, rather than getting useful paying work as a secretary, then as a teacher, and then going to graduate school in journalism, a far more practical path in my case.” [emphasis added]
Her career trajectory runs pretty parallel to mine – though right now I’m writing what is arguably a bad novel (I refuse to think I’m squandering my time, though) and her WSJ article today focuses on decluttering her house. Yeah, she can park her car in the garage now, but how about her soul? Her muse?
I spent many years as a single parent running my own business, and during those busy years, I almost never read a novel, let alone tried to write one. I was on that practical path that paid the mortgage and the orthodontist. Now I have a bit more time – even though Warren Buffett has not yet graced me with my own pot of gold – and I don’t want to think I’m squandering it.
If I don’t complete a successful/marketable/critically acclaimed novel, does that mean I’m squandering my time? I sure hope not. Do I need to write a best-seller to show I’m not wasting my time?
How about you? What drives you?