I own my own (small) place in the expensive Vancouver market, I have no mortgage and no debt. I have more money that I ever imagined having in the bank and no financial anxiety. I am not saying this to brag. I'm saying this because I took her question home and thought about it and this is what I chose to say to her in the next class: "I wanted a comfortable life and I worked hard. I succeeded because I had to. I had to pay my bills. I had to produce work, and lots of it, that someone wanted to buy. Period."
I got scores of grants, I sold services and products and I worked long hours. For me, the difference between working and playing was vague: I loved my work. That is what being an artist is in my experience. And yes, I had skills: I could write good persuasive copy and I was a good graphic designer and I used my skills to enhance all my grant applications and proposals.