Friday, October 10, 2008


Get a Real Job? I HAVE a Real Job!

by LuAnn Schindler

Today, after substitute teaching, I went out with one of my dear friends who teaches full-time. We discussed how teaching is more than an 8 - 4 job. It means being at school at 7:30, if not earlier. It means extra duty assignments that pay little of nothing yet require hours of extra work. It means grading papers, sometimes until midnight, because state standards tell you what must be taught and when to teach it.

Another person at our table turned and said, "We could get a writing job like LuAnn has. Then we can work when we want to."

Excuse me. I have a real job. I begin writing at 7:30 A.M, and I write until my husband comes home after a hard day of laboring on our farm. Quitting time for me is around 7 or 8 p.m. Sure, I might take an occasional break to make dinner or run an errand for him or even take an entire day to substitute teach. But when I finish there, I enter my office when I get home and I write. Why? Because it is what I enjoy doing. And yes, it pays the bills.

I turned to said colleague and asked why people don't consider my writing job a real job. After all, I have publishing credits. And they are from publications in our area, so it isn't like they don't see my work.

My friend said that maybe these other people consider writing a glamorous job and they find it odd that I can do that from the confines of my home office while I'm traipsing around my house in my PJs, if I so choose.

Maybe they won't consider my writing a real job until I have won the Pulitzer or Nobel Prizes. Maybe they won't consider my writing a real job until I have written about them. Or maybe they won't consider my writing a real job that I thoroughly enjoy because they are not happy with their position.

It reminded me of a poem by Marge Piercy entitled For the Young Who Want To.

Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorably
reviewed. Beforehand what
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting.

Work is what you have done
after the play is produced
and the audience claps.
Before that friends keep asking
when you are planning to go
out and get a job.

Genius is what they know you
had after the third volume of
remarkable poems. Earlier
they accuse you of withdrawing,
ask you why you don't have a baby,
call you a bum.

The reason people want M.F.A.'s,
take workshops with fancy names
when all you can really
learn is a few techniques,
typing instructions, and some-
body else's mannerisms

is that every artist lacks
a license to hang on the wall
like your optician, your vet
proving you may be a clumsy sadist
whose fillings fall into the stew
but you're a certified dentist.

The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved.

Reprinted from The Moon is Always Female, Alfred A. Knopf, Middlemarsh, Inc., Copyright 1980.

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