OMG, I know the bunnies You created are happy to celebrate life events with carrots. But O Lord, when human writers finish manuscripts, carrot sticks just don’t do it!
“What do you do?”
You’ve been asked this quintessential icebreaker a million times, right?
Has your answer made the questioner blink? Twice?
We Midwesterners like others to think we’re normal. Occasionally, I regale a cornered listener with tales of my jobs during college days. One summer, my brother and I cleaned our county’s 86 phone booths. We also cleaned telephone companies, creameries and lumberyards. I learned the value of hard work, fortitude, and singing high operatic scales while cleaning men’s restrooms.
I also worked as a nurse’s aide in a county home for patients like Glen, who pantomimed shooting the staff. I combed the grounds for booze James had smuggled in for resale purposes.
After that job, even a secretarial position in academia seemed tame.
Other workers push occupational limits too. Cleaning seems safe — but washing skyscraper windows? Ulp. Few adventure films feature dusting, but consider the heroism of a cling-to-the-scaffold IMAX screen maintenance guy.
I’d rather be a paper towel sniffer, paid $19,000-$52,000 per year.
According to Reader’s Digest, airplane repossessors make big bucks. However, considering some foreign governments’ possible displeasure, a million-dollar paycheck (and funeral) hold little appeal.
Nor do I aspire to be a lion keeper, snake milker, or caregiver to other dangerous animals — though my mom experience running children’s birthday parties would qualify me.
Those who prefer underwater excitement can work as divers, inspecting oil rigs. Or they can dive for pearls, establishing meaningful relationships with passing sharks.
I’d rather become a “Keeper of the Cup,” a Stanley Cup-sitter who accompanies the coveted hockey trophy wherever it goes.
Modeling appears an equally cushy job. However, consider the stresses of smiling for hours while starving. Even at my wedding, I, well-fed as always, grew tired of posing my pearly whites.
Wouldn’t we all like a career as a bed tester?
Some consider that snoozy job equivalent to my writing profession. I do spend hours in my PJs, as defined waistbands stifle creativity. When I’m parked in a comfy chair with my laptop, the necessary daydreaming (we writers call it brainstorming) sometimes morphs into nap-dreaming (subconscious research).
Like William Faulkner, I work when inspired. He claimed he was inspired at nine every morning. I am inspired anytime from 6 a.m. on — depending on deadlines — six days a week and, occasionally, seven.
I have experienced peril in my job, climbing a fire tower so I could write authentically about my characters’ acrophobia. I’ve spooked myself riding a nighttime ferry to an Ohio River pirate cave, experiencing terror my nineteenth-century heroine felt. I’ve even faced editors who couldn’t find a Starbucks.
Still, I’ll take this job and love it.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s the best job you’ve held? The worst?
Oh, Lord, thank You for the energy and focus to finish book number 24. Couldn’t go out to celebrate, though. What to do? Instead, Steve and I watched the Cubs’ 2016 World Series victory and snarfed take-out sundaes from Ivanhoe’s. OMG, thank You that despite the current crisis, we have a gazillion reasons to celebrate!
I have discovered that God designs writers with His usual love for diversity. However, when it comes to the organizational aspects of our profession, we fall into two basic groups. With a scratch-my-head bow to our Father (I never will understand why He created people the way He did), and an apology to Jeff Foxworthy, I suggest the following:
You might be a piler if:
- You have an office at home but never work there because you can’t find your computer.
- You haven’t seen your office carpet since the Bush administration. Is the color still neon mauve?
- You can’t recall whether you have a window, either.
- You just moved into the house next door because your to-be-read stack of books has taken over your first home.
- You still haven’t unpacked from the 2006 American Christian Fiction Writers conference … or 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010. … (Not admitting anything, here.)
- The number of your undeleted e-mail messages exceeds that of the national debt.
- You still have every story you’ve written since kindergarten. And every story your children have written. And every story your grandchildren have written. Plus all the rough drafts.
- Your smartphone, having given up on organizing you, has run away from home.
Yes, you are a piler.
On the other hand, you might be a filer if:
- You can see the top of your desk. No respectable piler would permit such a thing.
- You have scheduled morning, noon and night tweets and Facebook posts through the year 2021.
- You can eat on your kitchen table. If your family can, too, give yourself bonus filer points.
- You actually know where your goal list is.
- Every Facebook friend of yours has been categorized according to relationship, location, hairdo, and Popsicle flavor preference.
- Your idea of a good time is to alphabetize your recycling.
- Your latest mystery’s murderer is the only character in your novel who hates to file.
- Your smartphone and you go to Starbucks for regular coffee dates. It buys.
Yes, God knows where your membership belongs. And mine. So do our spouses or significant others. And our friends.
Your turn. Fill in the blank: you might be a filer/piler if .