Labor Day

You can take this job and. . .

Come to think of it, I’ve never taken a job. . . and shoved it. I may have pushed it a little, but never rudely shoved. Grumble as I do about my work, my workplace, even my coworkers, deep down I suppose I really do love what I do. And if it’s not love, then certainly it’s tenacity.

I’ve never left a job without moving to another, never been cut or let go. Never been fired. This Labor Day marks 40 years on the “job.” I use the word job deliberately. And with respect. I’m not talking about a profession or a high powered career. I’ve chosen my path as a commercial writer - writing on assignment, writing for the approval of clients, writing in collaboration, writing for a living. Through maternity leaves, (through thick and thin), through moves to new cities and career moves, through long commutes and telecommuting, through staff cuts and furlough days..still writing. Still tap-tap-tapping at a keyboard, lost in concentration on one bumpy sentence after another, scrabbling on the rocks of one word at a time.

Writing. Nice work, if you can get it

...and getting the work is getting harder all the time. Oh, I’ve had my fun in a string of adshops, where style is rewarded over substance, where a 30-second script is your ticket to a 6 week film production, where writing a few lines for a jingle could win you an Emmy. Heady stuff. Loved it all...

And then? We moved to Detroit, where things got serious. Tough city, tough job market. Leaving the Cleveland ad agency where I worked for nearly 15 years, I left advertising altogether, took a job with a charitable org, learned to straighten up and fly right: writing press releases, speaker notes, annual reports, steering a new craft without the wind of my former ad levity.

And now? Still writing, I hold a job few people can claim, developing exhibit content for a children’s science museum. My specialty? Medical science, of all things, currently working on a brain gallery. Without a PhD in neuroscience, I couldn’t ask for more intellectually stimulating work. But it’s a job, and not a secure one at that. I ask myself, what would I do without a job? How would I do writing . . . on my own, working for myself?

“You should get off your ass and write a book.”

( though that’s where I’d find a book) This advice I get from my sister, a painter, now at a crossroads with her own artwork in Florida. “I’m not a writer, like that,” I whine back at her. A writer who writes. . . books? Like novels? Sounds lonely and like the wrong line of work for me. I write exhibit labels for a children’s museum. I’m a distiller of text, not a storyteller. I’m a sprinter, good for short bursts, prone to short cuts, writing short pieces. I like water cooler chatter and twitter and oh, yeh, I like feedback. . .

All good reasons to blog.

Anyone can blog. Search the web for the words Why I Blog and a thousand windows pop up, ready to open at the click of your mouse. At the top of the google-list, find a thoughtful piece by writer/blogger, Andrew Sullivan Why I Blog - Magazine - The Atlantic “The blogosphere is inherently collective,” he writes. The internet is interactive, a dynamic social medium. In other words we’re all in this thing together. One Big Brazen New World. The blogger’s job is to link and facilitate, to play host to readers in search of their own points of interest. As Sullivan suggests, the key to good blogging “is to write as though you are not writing at all.” I love this advice. Now if only I could take it.

Beyond my family and a close friend or two, I don’t know who will ever see this post. But I’m up in the early hours of the morning, tapping it out with the same level of effort I would give any “real” job. I intend to post it before its deadline at dawn: Monday, Labor Day.

All in a day’s work.

NOTES: for more on Andrew Sullivan The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Photo source: miniature alphabet pencil sculptures by Dalton Ghetti


  1. Returning to the blogosphere, I find you have TWO brand new posts. I love this blog. I love the way it rambles while it stays on point. How it writes all around about ... writing and reads so well about ... reading.

    Okay if I turn some Artist Wayfarers loose on your address? And before I fall into another string of questions and fry my last brain cell, I love the layout. The photos are fabulous. So striking.

  2. herdpodo That's my "word verification" word for the day. I like it. Let's give it a definition and get it into Websters. Maybe it's the title of my next novel. Or yours. Or that questiony guy's. Let's have fun. Let's have more fun everyday. Let
    s see what the word verification word for this post is.

  3. Whoohoo. Thank you for your comments, Ann. (I will not tell you how long it takes me to straighten out my words and my head on some of these posts-- really the Antiblogger, here. But I'm gratified it they are zig-zagging their way into some form and connecting.

    Absolutely, please turn the AWayers my way. I miss their silence.

    Took a break on the third post, cheating and reworking the Pagett Powell review again. This time with links. My intent is to use them liberally.

    Next -- uh, I think the subject will be... gefilte fish. A fear-food for many, a delicacy for the Jewish holidays. I will not be partaking in either the preparation nor the eating of it -- but my my future daughter-in- law has been charged with the task of bringing it to the table for dinner at my nephew's house this Thursday. Fun times.

    ... herdpodo ... wow, you got me on that one. word verification...okay. Will have to think about that one...starting with the pronunciation. herdpodo. (Which reminds me, to ask how to embed a soundbite.)

    herdpodo... sounds organic, messy, perhaps slightly obscene... the result of a herd of cattle getting tangled by the tails. For a real gross-out look up King Rat. I'm sure another look at the word will induce a better, brighter whimsy... who knows. I'm in a herdpodo about this word. Doubt it will be a title of a book that I would start... but I'm game for a blog


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