Fruitful: Hunger (or, Ditch Digging Redux)

I used to work at Wendy's.  I worked there twice, actually, once the summer after I graduated from high school, the other time when I was a junior in college.  I have a fairly long history of working horrible, horrible jobs, which is something I'll probably write about at some point.

Anyway, during my first stint at Wendy's, I worked mostly with middle aged women who were all working there for one reason and one reason only: to support their family.  None of these women liked working there, although they did take a certain amount of pride in their work ethic.  None of them were well educated per se, but all of them had experienced an awful lot in life.  Some of them were on their second marriages.  All of them had children.  That's where their motivation came from; they were flipping burgers, working the drive-thru, for those children.  That's all that mattered to them.

Honestly, I hope my kid gets to work some shitty jobs when he's old enough.  It's an eye opening experience.  It teaches you to appreciate any number of things.  It also makes you realize that we, as human beings, have a common existence that is only modified by the details.  There is a thread that runs through all of us, it's just not always easy to see.

Anyway, a long while back I wrote a blog called "The Upside of Ditch Digging."  The gist of that post was that I have had many cushy jobs in my day, and that begs the question as to whether my cushy jobs have gotten in the way of my pursuit of writing.  The idea here is that the worse your situation, the further you will go to change it.  If life is okay, then the desire to improve it isn't as strong.

I currently have a pretty cushy job.  I like the people I work with.  I like the work, even.  I have some flexibility and, as of late, I even have ownership of what I do, which is a big thing for me.  I'm not part of Fringe Division or anything, but what I do has an impact on at least a few people.

But my job isn't ideal.  It's not where my passions lie.  So despite how cushy it is, I still have motivation to escape it.  Sure, I will always write no matter what my lot in life, but the pie in the sky of writing for living is always there, always calling me, and always relevant as long as I'm working a job that isn't it.

I wonder how much of that will change when I have a kid.

Right now, I have the job that I do because we have bills that need to be paid.  My motivation for having this job is necessity, but even then it's only just.  Nicole and I are adults; we can take care of ourselves.  We've lived through unemployment before and we could live through it again if we had to.  We can always get by.

That will change when we have a kid.  Everything will change.  But, specifically, this job will be that much more important.

I've always had a problem not being other.  I've had problems for years with being happy, because I
Not Winterson's best, but still really good.
assumed that being happy took away some kind of perceived necessary edge.  I have the same problem with my jobs.  Once they become meaningful, will I lose that desire to write, to make writing my life?  What becomes of me when my life is job, home, family?

Listen, I know for a fact that this kid is going to be my number priority and that's an understatement.  No one has to tell me that's what it will be like because I already know.  But if that happens, what happens to my writing?  When my life becomes about being successful at work so I can provide for my family, what will become of me?  How will I change and what will that mean for my writing?

You know, in high school, I always got my best grades in the fall.  There was a simple reason for this: I was playing soccer.  On top of school and a vague social life (and later, a band), I was also on the soccer team, which meant practice every day and games on the weekend (and during the week).  It meant that my free time was limited.  When my time for doing something well was limited, I actually succeeded.  More time just gave me more time to over think things.

Maybe that's what it will be like for my writing.  Maybe I'll become more diligent about it when the time I have becomes scarce and, therefore, sacred.  Maybe it will be easier for me to access that tiny part of my brain where the good writing lives.

And maybe, suddenly, I will have perspective.  And those few hours a week that I get to write will have meaning and that meaning will come across in the writing.  Maybe having a son will just be added motivation and another source of inspiration.  Maybe this will change my writing for the better.

As I said to Nicole today, having a kid is kind of terrifying, but it's only "kind of" because of how awesome it is.

Week 21!