Fortunate indeed are those who can follow their passion into a profession, yes? Everyone knows that. The X Factor is predicated on this notion, as indeed is MasterChef. But what if ‘following your passion’ and ‘doing what you love’ turns out to be a hideous error?
As the blogosphere’s supreme iconoclast David Cohen puts it:
Whatever you do, don’t follow your passion. Following soon becomes stalking; stalking becomes sneaking into its bedroom late at night and abducting it; and abducting it becomes burying it at the crossroads while eating its still warm heart. Following your passion will kill it.
This follows from Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of everything is crap. So, if your passion is movies and you become a film critic, what you actually spend your time doing is mostly watching crappy movies. If you love cooking (which usually means you like making one big meal on the weekend after planning a menu and shopping for specific ingredients), what you actually spend your time doing as a chef is cooking crap. (If you open a restaurant, rather than just become a chef, what you actually spend your time doing is losing money.)
Telling people to follow their passion is telling people that, if passion is their passion, they should become a prostitute. Actual prostitutes are not in it for the sex.
I once asked Jon Hotten why he didn’t become a full-time cricket journalist, when the sport is obviously his passion. His answer was that he didn’t want to spend every day sitting in a press box writing exactly the same thing as all the other guys in the press box.
We came up with the name ‘The Dabbler’ after debating a list of synonyms for ‘amateur’ – which, you might say with some or other degree of pointed ambiguity, probably explains a lot.