Is it worth it?
To be honest I'm here 12 years into my working career and still struggling financially due to my dogged determination to do personal, honest work. I also feel like I have little choice in the matter - there's some compulsion to go down this path whether I like it or not.
My current life looks like this: Find paying work which isn't too long-term in nature, and then stretch those dollars as far as I possibly can in order to buy time to work on the things I really want to work on.
The trouble is that the things I want to make are stories - comics namely - which are awkwardly straddling the line between commercial and non-commercial. I think they have the potential for widespread appeal, but they don't really fit the mold of what is currently considered "sellable". I loathe the idea of making work to fit a mold for the sake of being more sellable, so here I am. Balancing work for money with this persistent, insistent need to create from the heart.
At present it's unsuccessful on both fronts - neither have I made a very successful living as a freelance artist (partially by my own making, always doggedly pursuing the direction of personal work), nor have I been successful "making work from the heart", at least financially. Maybe my gamble will pay off in the long run as I race to finish these personal projects in between paying jobs, or maybe I have so many pots on the go that none will ever boil.
But unfortunately, the more I make comics, the more I want to make comics, so it doesn't seem like this need to create this "honest work" is going anywhere anytime soon.