It's A Dirty Job
© David Volk
For years, I have had some friends who have made fun of the way I make my living writing. There are those that have called me lazy, a few have accused me of doing nothing all day but sitting on my butt and talking on the phone. Many said that I had never done a hard days work in my life. Still others called me a panty waist....
Okay, I admit only one person called me a panty waist and I was wearing panties around my waist at the time, but that’s beside the point.
Up until now my thoughtful, witty, rather writerly response has been, " Oh yeah?"
While this isn't nearly as sparkling a piece of repartee as, say, "Up your nasal passages with the juices of a fucus elasticus" (that's "Up your nose with a rubber hose" for you common folk), it is much more mature than " I'm rubber, you're glue...." or even "Nuh-uh."
Be that as it may, I have finally been vindicated thanks to a recent classified ad in the Seattle Times, which explains how difficult writing can be. After years of telling people how hard my work is, I was finally able to show it all in black and white.
The ad says, and I quote:
" Writer, freelance writer for book projects, edit, research and interviews. Janitorial experience preferred. $10 Hr."
I have pondered this ad long and hard over the last week and I must tell you, I have no idea what it means. I do know it shows what deplorable conditions we writers are expected to write in. Now, not only must we toil at all hours of the day and night for next to nothing just to meet our thankless deadlines, but now we are expected to diversify. It isn’t enough to just research, interview and write. Now we must also know how to clean, sweep, dust and do toilets. Apparently all while conducting interviews and working on stories. And I'll bet you anything our employers won’t provide phone headsets so that writers won’t have to lean their heads while they try to hold the phone, talk and wash the mirrors. Before you know it, the powers that be will have writers working in sweatshops where they will have to clean, write and do some piece work on the side, plus some ironing.
And it will be good because if we as writers didn’t agree to do these jobs, they would be shipped out of the country and given to people who speak English in such non-English speaking countries as Mexico, India, China and New Zealand where they will work for just pennies a day. Which is why I have decided to join the National Writers Union, making me a member of its parent union, the United Auto Workers (I'm not kidding, check it out) and change the world.
And who says writing isn't a dirty job?
Of course, there could have been a typo in the ad. The advertiser could have meant "journalism experience," not "janitorial experience."
That's a possibility, isn't it?......
--From a man who wants to sweep the bums out,
David G. Volk