Friday, November 7, 2008

A disappointment and some musings

Well, I've been updating info on my little sidebar all about job applications over there (no, there, look on the right side), and I guess I'm going to have to add a new line of information: job searches I've already applied for that are now canceled. Sigh.

I may have to start seriously thinking about what sort of alternative plans I would consider. I've been talking with the kids a lot about what going to college is for and what they think about doing afterwards, and so I've been really thinking lately about the way work, and pay, and career, and vocation, and satisfaction all get connected up with each other, or don't. It's strange ---- the thought that your work that you get paid for should be somehow satisfying and fulfilling must be a very recent invention, and a very classed one. It's certainly not something that ever comes up in Dickens, say, or The Jungle. And yet it's something I have totally taken for granted as necessary, and that assumption, I think, is part of why so many bright undergrad English majors head off to grad school, after having had a college experience that is (and is supposed to be) deeply rewarding and fulfilling and full of personal growth. Perhaps we need to think more of how to prepare our students for thriving out in a world and a job that doesn't necessarily have those qualities. How to create them, perhaps, when they aren't already there.

I have some very sweet kids who want to someday write the Great American Novel, or, more terrifyingly, the Great American Poem. I keep telling them that if they really want to do that kind of work, they can't expect to get paid for it ---- that they should recognize they need to take some sort of job that will pay enough bills that they can concentrate on what they truly love, but that won't turn into its own career and suck up all their creative energy away from their vocation. Thinking about it, I realize that I've been insisting that intense ambition and secure pay and fulfillment and career progress must be all wrapped up in a single job, when I can so clearly see how on the creative or performance side that is a very limiting way of thinking about things. I guess now I need to consider if breaking these apart into separate aspects grants me any additional flexibility. And that would entail breaking apart and answering the question "what do I want to do" with much more specificity. Hmm. I'm going to have to do more mental chewing on this.

PS I did work on my revisions for an hour before posting this, so I'm not being a total reprobate with my Friday. Also, I hate tupperware, especially when it disgorges leftover soup all over my backpack. Grr.


André Dias said...

Breaking them apart should provide you with much more flexibility, sure. The same kind of flexibility that lying, for instance, also provides. If you ignore the moral aspect of it, as I do, there’s nonetheless still something that won’t quite work. Nonetheless, a liar is someone we have to consider very flexible indeed. Oh, the world just seems too tough to keep hoping for the single job of life.

Anonymous said...

I've had similar thought processes over the years -- that this academic job that I took because I thought it would leave lots of time for thinking, reading, writing, being an artist actually turned out to be, you know, a JOB -- a huge, time consuming, exhausting job. What a disappointment! Or, looked at differently, what a blessing! I see lots of people with "real jobs" (as the saying goes) that don't work as hard as I do but are also not as intellectually stimulated (sometimes over-stimulated) as I am on a daily basis. I go back and forth -- good days and bad days. My little bit of wisdom is: if you can get an academic job, be prepared to work your ass off and to abandon plans for other creative endeavors (at least for a little while; I've got my hopes up for post-tenure). If you can't get an academic job, embrace the idea of getting paid a decent salary and not having to "produce, produce, produce", perhaps finding an alternative mode of self-expression without all the tedious grading.

Good luck, Cog!

medieval woman said...

Oh, Sis - I feel you on the job cancellations. TD's really good job opportunity near my Dream Academy went *poof*! yesterday and it's got us down. At least 2 of mine went the way of the dodo...

Bardiac said...

This year sucks especially badly on the job market, alas. Our dean told the whole college that we're in some danger of losing our job slots, too.

On the other side, though, the friends I have who left academics have all (so far as I'm aware) found jobs that are rewarding intellectually and at least okay financially. And they aren't soul-killing, either.

I'm hoping things work out well for you however they work out.