A penguin and a polar bear are sitting on an iceberg. The penguin yells, "No Soap Radio!" They both jump in the water.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Permanent writer seeks temporary inspiration

I’m surrounded with the false symptoms of needing a job.

Our apartment’s continuously messy kitchen is packed with food. In the fridge are three jugs of milk and four cartons of eggs. At one point our cupboard had six jars of peanut butter. This apartment has five people who enjoy having their own things (where the sixth jar came from we still aren’t sure).

If you broke the kitchen up by food ownership, the section labeled “Luke” would be pretty sparse, the highlights being some bread, tuna, eggs (of course), a box of Frosted Flakes I don’t plan on eating, and a couple Red Bulls. This short grocery list isn’t a financial decision on my part, though. Like the woman from Lethal Weapon 2, I really prefer to pick my meals on a day-to-day basis—the hunt for a sudden craving is much more fun than the stability of having your meals planned for a week. I shopped and cooked all summer while living at my friend Jamie’s place; it’s time for a little spontaneity.

The walls of my room are also rather bare. I’ve never had the touch for interior decorating, I’ll admit, but you can’t build a muscle you don’t exercise. The white wall look comes from the theory that a bedroom is a simple place to walk into and collapse after you’ve the things filling your waking hours. It can also be a place to lock out everything while reading and writing, which usually dominates my schedule, but distractions aren’t useful in this instance either. I have paintings my friends and I have done, but they’re sitting on the floor. There are some posters I could put up and some art prints I have my eye on, but who has the time? I’ve got a desk piled with notepads and newspapers, a two-level bookshelf I’m pretty happy with, and a soft bed. A bedroom needs no more.

Then there’s my car. It’s small, and while it occasionally provides the opportunity for a lesson in car maintenance, I love that thing. I love it because small cars are more fun to drive, a fact I learned while being whipped around town in my friend Will’s identical-looking Toyota back in high school. That, and the mileage on that beast lets me take random trips to Raleigh or Jacksonville or anywhere I suddenly find it necessary to be. (I suppose it’s partially a financial thing then.)

All of these seem like reasons for wanting a job, but my real motivation for seeking employment—in addition to the gig I’ve already got—lies, as always, in something I read.

I just finished A Softer World writer Joey Comeau’s short story “Halt”, which is the tale of his short-lived employment as a security guard (he was eventually fired after being falsely accused of peeing in a bucket and leaving it in someone’s office). I’ve always enjoyed anything Comeau writes, and a lot of his work has to do with his lack of…work.

A writer working a shit job, just like a writer doing anything, is really only different than any other person doing the same in that the writer makes a story out it. By that I don’t necessarily mean they go home afterward and punch away on a keyboard, though that’s an important part. The typing comes later, but the story begins the second you begin to see it as one.

What I see here is an opportunity. The only thing I like more than having money to blow on the people who make me smile—drinks at the bar, picking up that book they were looking for, gas money to visit far flung friends, the only things worth spending frivolously on really—is having a good story to tell them. I’ve had a lot of jobs, most of them in restaurants or, more recently, newsrooms, and any that didn’t involve writing I quickly began to hate.

I need something different. The want ads are story leads. It’ll be something exciting, at least potentially. Something challenging, if only for my patience. Something so full of room for me to dream that it can’t help but let me down. This isn’t a resume builder; it’s an experiment. It’s not a career path; it’s a premise.

Here’s to getting paid to be a writer, no matter what the job title.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm disappointed you didn't mention being whipped around in my geo metro back in high school.... some writer you are

11/17/2007 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger Luke McIntyre said...

Two Wheel Trixie was just barely a car as it was. Will's was more fun because of the manual transmission, but then again yours did have that name-creating side effect while doing donuts...

11/17/2007 12:34:00 PM  

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