Sunday, February 3, 2013


Visual traces of unemployment make you uncomfortable in ways that have something to do with finances but more beyond that.  In a healthy society, everyone has a shot at some work that provides satisfaction as well as salary.  You have come to believe, whether correctly so or not, that you can spot the difference between individuals hanging out and playing after work and those who are looking, eager, almost desperate for the opportunity to labor at nearly anything.

Living in the car culture of the Central Coast and southern California,you've picked up a subliminal awareness of the places where men hang out, hoping to be picked up for day-work jobs.  The ethnicity varies from place to place, but the behavior remains the same.  The most individualized impression you can offer to the demographics is your sense that among the younger hopefuls there is a significant number of over-middle-age persons.

You are more aware of the discomfort relative to working hours, working days, working assignments, and being out of work when a few days elapse and you realize you are spending much of the time staring at a screen or a note pad, as though you were one of those individuals waiting to be picked up and either driven somewhere or told where to appear, and what the job is.  For some considerable time, you've been fortunate in this regard.  Even on days when you have three classes and the adjunct reading, notes, and preparation call for your focus, the literary equivalent of an employer stops by, honks the horn, and takes you on for a few hours of work.

Sometimes, when you are amid a group of brother and sister writers, the topic turns to the wish for more time to write if not for the most far-reaching wish of all, the wish to be able to write without the need of doing any other work.

To be clear about your stand in the matter, writing is the desirable occupation, but it requires regular infusions of reading and other forms of education as well as physicality and some forms of participation in society.  Writing is as honorable and rewarding as one makes it.  Masonry or computer technology are honorable and rewarding.

Your belief--which probably works only for you--is that having unfettered free time to write would not produce better work than you now produce nor would it produce more work than you ordinarily produce while working at other things.  There is a synergistic relationship between different types of hard work in which each contributes to the spiritual integrity of the individual, this meant in the most secular sense of spiritual integrity.

Being on any campus at all has been of considerable value to you, thanks to the pressure of the need to be prepared for the sake of the students but also for exposure to the various forms of bureaucracy and personality rampant on any campus.  Both these incentives add to your writing toolkit at the most basic level.

Having to work for a living is an important nudge in the right direction, reminding you constantly of the wild variations in layers of existential interest, reminding you that even when you are self-sufficient, there are levels of politics and bureaucracy with which you must cope and contend, lest you take on that slightly anxious, slightly desperate look of those who gather at the day worker spots, hoping someone will come by.

You have experienced that feeling of despair and the one of anxiety, waiting for ideas, looking about you for ideas, for signs and omens of ideas.  Every time the ideas come and whisk you away with them, you have the means to compare the excitement of the hard work to follow with the sense of disappointment when it is three or four in the afternoon and no one has come wanting to hire you, and your expectations of the jobs you'd be hired for at this hour begin to seem particularly grim.

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