Originally posted October 26, 2009.
Last week I started a part-time, retail job. I’m the only person impressed by this. Not that I necessarily expected giant, congratulatory slaps on the back, but I thought that others would recognize…I thought that others would be eased by my proactivity.
It hasn’t exactly turned out that way. Instead I’ve been riddled with questions about where I’m going to spend the holidays and how I expect to support myself on $8.00 an hour (pre-tax). The questions make my shoulders sag. It feels like an assault and I’m unprepared to defend my position.
I don’t have the neat, compartmentalized answers that they want. I wish that I did. All I know is that I feel good about having a part-time, retail job because I feel a sense of ownership. I did this. I took advantage of the opportunity that was in front of me on the day that it was in front of me. That might not seem like a big deal, but I have the same characteristics as many other writers: “an excess of feeling”, “overly developed sense of privacy”,”too reflective”.* And I have to fight to keep from constantly indulging those natural tendencies. One of the hardest things that I can do is to set aside reading or writing and participate in activities that don’t feed those desires.
I need money because if I’m going to read and write, I have to subsist. So I had to get out there and find a job. (And this is not a seamless progression of thought for me. It seems counterintuitive to spend time doing something — solely for lunch money – that doesn’t nurture the things that I feel best doing.) And I did. I got a part-time, retail job. This may not be a paramount accomplishment, but it reflects that I am slowly realizing that I am equally responsible for my physical needs as I am my artistic and emotional ones.
This position is not the pinnacle of my expectation. However, right now it’s helping to give me the assurance that there is enough time in the day for me to do the things that I need to do to live and the things that I want to do to pursue my ambition.
It’s more than I was doing two weeks ago and that is a step in the Right Direction.
* The attributes that I listed were taken from the book The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner. I have always recognized those tendencies in myself, but didn’t realize that they were symptomatic of many writers. It gives me a sense of community.