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Why Almost Nobody Gets Paid To Whittle

When I was about 8 years old, my dad let me buy a pocket knife. I spent many hours cutting up sticks into tiny shavings for the next few years, and had a blast slowly deforesting the woods around our suburban ranch home. For a bored homeschooled kid on a breezy summer day in St. Louis, whittling is as good as it gets.

Years went by, I got busy doing stuff that you're supposed to do when you're responsible, and suddenly I hadn't picked up a whittling knife in almost 10 years. Until last weekend. I found one of my old knives in the back drawer, and with a bum leg and nothing better to do on a Thursday afternoon, I broke off a branch from a tree outside and started hacking away. I honestly forgot how satisfying it really can be.

Sadly, almost no one makes a living whittling. Here's a few of the reasons I came up with while shaving the bark off the stick:

  1. Almost anybody can do it at a relatively capable level.
  2. It costs virtually nothing to buy the tools, and the supply is free.
  3. People have traditionally thought of it as a hobby, not as a way to make a living.
  4. It's a somewhat limited medium. There's only so many ways to whittle, and still define it as "whittling".

Of course, you probably are making the same conclusion I did- music is a lot like whittling.

Does this mean we can't make a living doing it? Of course not. We just have to make sure that whatever we're creating, whether it be carved in wood or data points on an MP3 player, that it's collosally over-the-top amazing. Who knows? We may never get the opportunity again to get paid to do something most people throughout history have done after a full day's work for fun.


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