Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I have to go to work
Last week I gave a talk at a local Rotary meeting. The group of about fifteen all work in my city at various jobs: banking, real estate, small business, and consulting are the ones I know of. It's a breakfast meeting at 7 in the morning. It's a good thing I like this group.
I've talked to them before and they were receptive as usual to my topics: the writing process, the state of publishing as I experience it. They know that I also teach and work as an editor at a lab. One woman in particular always asks when my classes are since "some day" she wants to write a book.
Nothing unusual so far. Several people stayed around after my talk AND THEN, one by one they left, uttering some variation of "I wish I were a writer, but I have to go to work now."
Can you hear my growl?
I've heard this all my life. My father was a laborer, the kind who literally dug ditches to support us. A plum job for him was a gig at a construction site where he might have the pleasure of building a stairway, pouring concrete, or putting on a roof.
To my parents, who had six or seven years of school between them, anyone who dressed up before they left the house in the morning was not really working. I understood that—and I've always been able to see the difference between my father's kind of work and my kind of work.
But I don't expect to hear remarks like that from professionals. How can an educated person think it's not some measure of work to write two books a year, for example, or even a half a book a year?
The last woman out the door of the Rotary meeting said, "Once I don't have to work, I'm going to write a book, too."
"Good luck with that," I said.
Does anyone have a better answer that I can use the next time?