These are choices we self-employed creative folks must make at every turn along the path. Often the decisions reflect our constant concern with financial security and our desire to be regarded as successful amongst our friends, family, and colleagues. Too often our preoccupation with economic survival eclipses the light of creativity, casting a shadow of fear or anxiety over our productivity. Artists also may feel like casualties of the current economic vortex - castaways, or worse yet, rotted driftwood - left to fend for themselves. Poets and musicians have written endlessly about heartbreak and self-destruction, but can we potters really make use of angst and frustration in any way other than by chopping wood? It seems to me that my energy is much better spent- and much more available - when I'm feeling valued and empowered. Examining this statement a little more closely leads me back, of course, to the topic of money, namely, how much does it take to make me feel valued and empowered, and just how can I amass that amount without losing my integrity (or my personal life)?

The first notable fork in my life-path appeared as the choice between full-time potting and the much-coveted professorial position. As an undergrad I had idealized my professors' lives, most significantly that of Chris Staley, who seemed to personify that elusive "balance" we hear about. A few years later, with some experience making and selling pots to my credit, I continued along the academic path to an MFA, picking up graduate teaching assistantship jobs along the way. I was groomed to teach ceramics to the next generation. But where did my pots fit in?

...