My work ethic (also known as the aggressive pursuit of pleasure).Posted: October 24, 2012
Recently a friend commented I had a great work ethic. I was glad, because discipline has always been a huge priority for me—society doesn’t ask for new plays or new novels in the same way that they ask for new medicines or technologies, so it’s a self-protective measure for a writer to just keep her head down and do the work. Which I do, every day, for at least two hours.
But that’s a negative reason to work (“nobody cares!”), which I’d rather not champion. Here are two reasons that feel more truthful to me: first, work is pleasure. I love writing. I love creating. When it’s easy, I love the ease. When it’s difficult, I love the difficulty. I love both writing and having written. (I’ve never understood writers who complain about writing. If writing doesn’t make you happy, do something else that does.)
And second, I readily admit I’m a brat. I was born with an extremely low tolerance for doing things I don’t want to do. (When I was a kid, this manifested as throwing a tantrum when Dad asked me to weed the driveway, because my time could be better spent reading The Wheel of Time. Not my finest hour.) I’ve learned more patience since then. But in the large arc of my career, what I want is very simple: (1) To make a living from making art, and (2) to be able to travel wherever and whenever I want. These are difficult things to achieve. So yes, I orient my life around that goal, and that appears to others as a “great work ethic.”
Wouldn’t everyone have a great work ethic if they were doing something they loved?*
*Update: hmmm, on second thought, there’s a lot of class and educational privilege inherent in this question. There are big factors I don’t have to deal with: students loans, disability or illness, dependents, or lack of access due to all forms of discrimination save sexual discrimination. So. I’m not going to retract this post, but qualify it. This opinion about how to spend one’s life is coming from a very privileged position, and I acknowledge that. I welcome input. Thanks.