“To Job, Or Not to Job,” by Miranda Hill

“To Job, or Not to Job,” by Miranda Hill. I don’t quite know what to make of this essay. Its title poses a choice — write full-time, or keep a dayjob and write around that — yet the body acknowledges that such choice is rare. An individual’s situation also defines the viability of such a choice.

It’s all work. While I certainly prefer to be working on my own stuff over working at someone else’s office to someone else’s tasks, my own work, my little books, are not intrinsically more valuable or more important than anyone else’s work. When Hill uses Franz Kafka the Insurance Agent as an example of a writer who kept a dayjob for years yet complained of it, the essay’s rhetoric again sets up the idea of a choice, but then yanks the idea of choice away: “Perhaps Kafka shared the feelings of a painter friend of mine, who returned to work after many months of devoting herself ‘full-time’ to her art. When I asked her why, she said, ‘I made an amazing discovery. I paint much better when the lights are on.’ ”

Lights on. Food in the fridge. Clothes on the kids’ backs.

So, I’m sparked to ask: given an economy in deep flux, and given an industry in deep flux (publishing), does the choice paradigm actually exist? Did it ever exist for everyone, or just for a few? And, if it exists, does the choice paradigm automatically presume one’s art work is more valuable than anyone else’s work? Preferable to the artist, yes, but more valuable?

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