Okay, I realize the expression is “my two cents.” But since I blessedly earn about twelve times the U.S. average hourly wage for doing a day job I wouldn't say I "love," I have opted for mathematical accuracy in titling this blog.

And speaking of mathematics, three years and three novels since selling my first copy of Later with Myself in July 2011, I have earned less in total sales and royalties than I earn in a single day of practicing law. And that’s gross (meaning “before expenses,” as opposed to repugnant, which it is as well). Factor in what I’ve spent on book marketing and promotion, and I am over 16 billable hours “in the hole.” Granted, I have been practicing law for over twenty-five years, while struggling only the last five of them to also “make it” as a writer. But clearly, as any fool can see, my legal words of wisdom are worth far more on the open market than my literary ones.

Since I love to write, I will keep doing it—compensated or not. But what about making a living doing what I love? Must those of us who need to work for a living relegate the things we love to "hobby" status? Is the sheer joy of doing something we love to be its sole reward?

We've all heard the banal New Age-y advice:

Do what you love and the money will follow.Marsha Sinetar

If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life.Marc Anthony*  

(*Was he the first person to say that?)

Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.Wayne Dyer

Lately, I’ve been reevaluating this notion of attempting to do what I love for a living. Despite the sappy slogans, something far more “enlightening” occurred to me the other night while fixing dinner: Why should I get paid for doing what I love? Indeed, why should anyone else care whether I love what I’m doing, much less pay me for it?

Just because we love doing something doesn’t mean we necessarily can or should make money from it. Plenty of folks love to write—and eat, watch TV, and have sex, for that matter. Blame it on Capitalism if you want, but people only pay for things they want or perceive they need. And since forces of supply, demand, and price virtually guarantee that we will only be compensated for the things we do better (or cheaper) than the next guy (or gal), what about learning to “love” what we’re already doing? Are there any kitschy quotes about that?

These are the closest ones I could find:

“The secret of joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.” Pearl S. Buck

“If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

As these more pragmatic but no less inspiring quotations suggest, our feelings needn’t factor into the equation at all. Rather, we can choose to love our work by constantly striving for excellence at it. And isn’t it blessing enough to earn an enviable living doing something I’m good at, even if I don't happen to "love" it all the time?

I like to believe I’m a talented writer, and (as with practicing law), am continually working at improving my craft and "upping my game." But to be successful at anything, it isn't enough to simply be good at what we do; we have to provide a needed/wanted product or service. I therefore consider it a small miracle that I have developed a modest "following" of faithful readers these past five years. But when it comes to matters of creativity, success essentially boils down to getting large numbers of people to like your output enough to be willing to pay for it, a goal that has proven elusive thus far. And when it comes to earning an actual living, it seems being a first-rate lawyer to a handful of loyal clients trumps spinning my wheels trying to become a widely sought-after novelist any day of the week.

I have recently begun writing my fifth novel. But alas, it will have to rest on the back burner this weekend while I churn out my monthly invoices and pore over that latest contract. Those efforts—while tedious—can at least be counted on to pay this month's bills and put food on the table.