Flexibound / 128 pages / Laurence King Publishing / March 2020
With so many people struggling financially right now, and not sure what the future holds for their career, “Make a Living Living” by Nina Karnikowski is a book that was published for times like this. She includes the stories of 26 creatives who are making a living doing what they love, each sharing the setbacks and achievements along the way. The book gives practical advice to those looking to build a creative career, along with eight short exercises to follow. Each creative describes their journey, their challenges, their mistakes, and their living arrangements. It is advice for those looking to make a change, but are too reluctant or unsure how to start.
Karnikowski’s selection of creatives from around the world is diverse. There are singles making it on their own, and couples who are working on their passions together, some despite having kids. Each person featured are in different fields, businesses, life stages, and cultural backgrounds, but one thing that they all have in common is the overcoming of setbacks.
It is healthy to read about the resiliency of people and how they overcame their job loss, professional failure, career plateau, health problems, or even the loss of a relative. As you read about each story, notice how all of them took something that was negative, seemingly insurmountable, uninspiring, and turned it into something positive.
The overall themes throughout the book are things that we already know to be true, but linked to each individual featured, carries more credibility in this moment. There is something powerful about someone who is telling the world about their personal journey, including their vulnerabilities and insecurities, while giving advice. They are telling us what worked for them, their secret that is not so secret.
Enduring truths of life, such as we should never live in denial. Being honest with who we are, what we are capable of, and how we can grow is a vital component of each individual finding success. Often, they would tell Karnikowski about the time it took for that success to manifest itself, and for passions to become profitable. This is crucial, because it does not set up this false hope of people who quit their day jobs for their creative passions overnight.
The reason things take time, is because each individual invested in educating themselves. You will notice how each used these turning points as opportunities to learn new skills. Some went to universities, some found internships with creatives they followed on social media, and some taught themselves by watching videos online. The idea of a fluid, non-hierarchical approach to education is a reality that more people are beginning to accept. Too often, people limit themselves because they feel that they do not have the right credentials to become a photographer, baker, writer, and whatever craft they have always dreamed of pursuing. Each person in this book learned something new along the way, and makes learning part of their ongoing commitment to living the life that they want.
Many of the individuals also recognized that they cannot do it alone. They developed networks of mentors and peers to encourage them. The 26 creatives that Karnikowski writes about are people who are not afraid to ask for help, to pitch ideas, or ask them to become part of their journey.
“Make a Living Living” is an inspirational read for those looking to uplift themselves in the morning, or right before bed. It is a quick read, it will only take a couple of hours, but it will reinvigorate your desire to pursue your creative career at a time when you might need it.
Note: Normally, I purchase the books that I review from a physical bookstore or their website. For this review, I asked Laurence King Publishing to send me a copy of this book to review, and they did. I like them as a publisher, and I often like most, but not all, of their books.
Review by Phil Roberts