Thursday, April 06, 2006

What I Do for a Living

In response to the salary post, I was asked what I do to earn it. I've mentioned here and there that I work in publishing. I don't want to say exactly what my position is. But I can tell you a bit about what I do.
It's funny, actually-- when I first got my current job, one of my friends was asking about it and when I described it a bit, she said "But what do you DO? You don't actually DO anything?!?"
In some ways it is true. I've had jobs in the past where I served food, hosed down floors, packed boxes, folded clothes, and counted money. I've done mindless assembly line work, and lifted and carried things. There is work that is physical work-- I kind of miss doing that. It was often exhausting and not always fun, but it at least kept me in shape without having to go to the gym. Then there is work that involves serving others in various ways-- ringing things up at a cash register and dealing with customers. I kind of enjoyed working in retail, dealing with the public and merchandising stock in a store to see what might make it sell. But when you are the person behind a counter in a store, people can just be rude and treat you like dirt, or, like a commenter on a previous post, not even see you as human.
But what I do now is very different. I sit at a desk and think about things. I oversee things. I send emails asking and answering questions. I go to meetings. Occasionally I still pack or unpack boxes, but not much. I am basically paid to know how certain things should be done, to use that knowledge and pass it on, with the ultimate goal that some books will be sold.
Sometimes this seems very strange to me. When people ask, I always say that I enjoy my job, and basically I do-- I work with nice people, I get to read a lot of books for free, and there are mental challenges to it. And there are lots of worse things I could be doing. But sometimes I feel like I should be doing something more, or better, somehow. I'm just not sure what that would be.


Anonymous said...

I do nothing. Do I need to? I enjoyed previous jobs but if you get too good at them, the risk is when you want to move to another one, the boss won't release you because you are too valuable. Ever had that? I have.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but being an Australian while I see your money problems in New York, perhaps you are over-reacting? Ever considered that?

Gold Coast Queensland Australia is also an expensive place but with a better climate, and easier targets for investments.

Ban me if you want but I tell the truth.

Never snows here :)

Anonymous said...

Plus the Indy carnival in October. Ask Dave Letterman about that. We are good here. Not promoting but broaden your horizons is what I'm saying, if anything.

BTW, that was not you on the bike.

Anonymous said...

Australians have an an expression you don't want to hear.

Anonymous said...

But I will give you a clue. Seems sad where you live but, Oh well. Money may seem everything in a capitalistic society. Keep your options open.

optioned unarmed said...

I don't think one's day job needs to be a complete expression of self-actualization... If a job can provide the backdrop of financial stability while one pursues their big dreams outside of the workplace, there is nothing wrong with that.

It is my impression that a lot of people in the publishing business are (or were) writers and had dreams early on in life of writing books. If that is the case for you, hopefully you'll remember those dreams and act on them with creativity, joy and discipline.