Sunday, February 18, 2007

Annoying Day Jobs, part 2

A friend and I have coined the acronym "ADJ" to refer to our day in Annoying Day Job. The theory, of course, is that if we didn't have to do these annoying day jobs to make a living, we'd be home all day, drinking endless pots of coffee, holed up writing thousands of words a day on our Great American Novels. That, of course, would be the Good Life. We wouldn't have to put up with regimentation of our days, we wouldn't have to get out of our jammies if we didn't want to, yatta, yatta. It's a shame, really. We artistic types shouldn't be bound to having to slave away with irritating supervisors or coworkers that drive us nuts... Yeah. Okay. Right. You know that's a fantasy, don't you? Not the part where you sometimes have irritating supervisors or coworkers who drive you nuts. But the part where, left to our own devices, we'd be holed up with that large pot of coffee and writing endlessly, to the point where our production would skyrocket, we would be blissfully happy, and we'd at last be living True Artistic Lives. Fantasy, all the way. How dare I say that? Better still, why am I so sure? Well, I could name a couple of reasons, and they're titles of computer games (!)...but that's not the whole reason. It's just that I'm beginning to come to an "ugly" realization about myself, and I suspect many of us realize the same thing deep down...only we dare not speak its name out loud, under penalty of being considered somewhat less than a "real" artist. The ugly truth? On some level...we LIKE having day jobs. It's hard to shoot holes in the folklore and admit that because, somehow, it just seems to make us...less legitimate as artistic people. REAL writers, after all, despise routine. REAL writers, real creative people, loathe the ball and chain of going to a salaried job every day. REAL writers want that unfettered freedom of writing, submitting, being paid, lather, rinse, repeat. REAL creative people consider cubicle life as death, office worlds as stiflingly boring, and are only truly happy when they've busted out of those chains and are following their muses, come hell or high water. Hogwash. Yeah, there are days when we don't want to go into the office...but that's not because we don't want to work so much as it's because the weather is just plain too nice to stay indoors, period. Which means that, barring a convenient place to put a laptop, we won't be writing, either. Or even if we have a convenient place to put a laptop, we ain't gonna be in the mood to write...because we're too busy soaking up sun, enjoying the breeze, thinking about making iced tea or having a picnic. I know. I've worked from a home office, and I've worked "legitimate" day gigs. And there is a difference. Day gigs are easier. We as creative people have been sold a bill of goods for a long, long time. We've willingly bought it, too, especially those of us who are children of the Sixties, when the rallying cry was "Down with the Establishment!" and we were "flower children" who thought we could live on love. Hey, the idea of dumping a day job, or never getting one in the first place? COOL, man. HEAVY, dude. Or, as kids said a generation later...awesome! Too bad the bill of goods isn't real. When you don't have a steady day gig, how do you pay for your car to be fixed? What do you do when you need to go the dentist? When do you take the cat to the vet? When all you have is your own self, freelancing or selling novels, you have a LOT to pay for. You have a lot of responsibility, and no group insurance advantages to make it cheaper. And this frees up your creativity and inspires your muse...HOW? So as we look forward to another work week, I would submit it will go much less painfully for many of us if we stop lying to ourselves. If we stop beating up on our jobs, our employers, or ourselves for--on some level--feeling good about having the job in the first place. If we just admit that, for a lot of reasons, maybe we don't really want to be on our own. Left on our own, many of us would drift. Or waste time. Or wonder if what we're doing really matters.

Irritating coworkers or not...some of us would panic, or at least be at a loss, without them.

There's no shame in any of that.

There's no diminishment of "artistry" in saying, "Hey, I like feeling productive. I like feeling like I go to a place where my work is needed, where I perform a service that, were I not here, wouldn't get done."

Of course, if I won the lottery tomorrow, I'd rethink lots of my life decisions and situations. I might even quit my day job. But then again............. Thinking about Monday through Friday, Janny

1 comment:

Deb said...

ADJ #1 is not ADJ #2. I'd have a fine ole time at my ADJ if my boss would simply move on. No further buffing of the day gig needed.

That said, I like getting out of the house. I like my co-workers, like interacting with them and others. I like writing regular checks for groceries. I think I need the stimulus, and if the ADJ ever vanished, I'd probably go volunteer at some hospital or other, just to keep myself stimulated.

But if they offered to pay me the same salary for half the time I currently work, I'd be the first to jump at it and write (or try to) the rest of the time.