Ask me: "you don't have to be a public defender any more, what would you do?"

>> Friday, March 12, 2010

Matt inquired:

You've completed your novel, it's fabulous, you've been offered enough money that maybe you don't have to be a public defender any more, what would you do?


I have a love/hate relationship with my job and a fantasy of being a writer--so yeah, I'd quit the job and start working on a second novel.

It's been said that a lot of people of my generation--you know, "Gen X"--work to live instead of living to work. Truth be told, I don't know if that really means anything or not; it's not like the Baby Boomers or "Greatest Generation" gang seem that intent on work for its own sake, or that the--hell, what are they calling the kids these days?--anyway, hard to imagine future generations will be more keen on work than we are. There are certainly people for whom work is everything, all they have, all they are--but are their that many?

There are days I love what I do. I do want to be clear about that. Days that you feel that you're sticking up for the little guy and all that, or even, frankly, just days that you feel like, "fuck yeah, I won," which may seem pathological but I think there are a lot of overly-competitive people in law. Sometimes a win is just satisfying, that sense of being right about something, or cleverer than somebody else, or quicker or smarter in some other sense, or of having preparation pay off. And then there's the joy of just helping somebody when that pans out--getting some schlub a break, especially when they deserve it (and sometimes even when they don't).

But there are days you go home with your soul sucked right out of you. Through the nose, like the Egyptian priests used to do it. Days you feel like you can't win, and even if you did, what would the fucking point be? A public defender has a truly Sisyphean task: even if he gets one boulder over a hill without it rolling back on him, there's always another boulder to take its place. Barring a sudden outbreak of an Aquarian Age or the utter collapse of civilization into actual anarchy, there will always be a lot of people who broke the law or are accused of doing so, an infinite flood of work for prosecutors and defense attorneys, not to mention the judges, clerks, cops and rest of the apparatus. There's job security in human misery, y'know?

The good days are really good, but they're not good enough that I wouldn't give them up if I could make a living writing down dreams. Hell, even if I only produced one decent piece of work, but the movie rights or licensing or whatever put me in a position to just retire and happily live out my days tinkering around--well, hell yeah. I think I could be satisfied with that. Is there somebody who really wouldn't be?

Hope that was a decent enough answer, Matt. Thanks for the question.


3 comments:

Janiece Friday, March 12, 2010 at 10:42:00 AM EST  

They're called "Millennials." The whippersnappers, I mean.

Eric Friday, March 12, 2010 at 10:59:00 AM EST  

Makes 'em sound like a group of ancient Illuminati who all live in a cave in Bulgaria and have survived centuries by eating nothing but yogurt

mattw Saturday, March 13, 2010 at 2:40:00 PM EST  

You pose an interesting question there at the end.

..."put me in a position to just retire and happily live out my days tinkering around--well, hell yeah. I think I could be satisfied with that. Is there somebody who really wouldn't be?"

I think I might be one of those people. I won't say that work is my life, but I do display plenty of workaholic tendencies (thanks mom!), and I've come to discover, that while I enjoy spending time at home with the kids and tinkering around and whatnot I have to have that other adult interaction that I don't get at home. I've often thought that if I were to win the lottery, not that I ever buy tickets, but if I were, I would still work. Now if that does some day become the case, we'll see what happens. Brandi would probably kick my ass seven ways from Sunday if I were to go back to work, but you never know.

I too would love to write full-time, but then I wonder if that would affect my fiction, not being out to see human interaction on a day-to-day basis.

On the other hand (how many hands is that now?) I have weeks like these last couple at work when I ready to say fuck it and find a gas station job or something. If it weren't for those damn bills.

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