A few months back I wrote a piece about American overtime laws and how they set clear boundaries about what kinds of workers need to be paid time-and-a-half for any hours per week they work over forty. These laws were enacted to 1)Create more jobs by giving employers incentive to hire more workers at the regular rate instead of paying their existing workers the time-and-a-half rate, and 2)To help workers maintain a better work-life balance, because working a lot of overtime sucks hard.
The rules are laid pretty clearly in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which I first learned about when my old job as a school secretary overloaded me with more work than I could possibly handle in a 40-hour workweek and I started doing some research. While the Continue reading
I used to stress out about work, but then I stopped.
Way, way back before I’d come up with the Day Job Philosophy, at my previous jobs I was always trying to support my employer by doing my best, since that was the way I’d been raised. I worked hard, tackled all the assignments I was given, tried to impress my superiors, and focused a lot on making other people happy—and it almost destroyed me.
Back then, I believed that if I did a job well I’d naturally be recognized for it, which would then lead me to more success and material rewards Continue reading
“But wait!” some of you naysayers might be shouting after my last entry about creating a world where people don’t have to spend all their time working just to get by, “if people didn’t have to work, then they’d just sit around playing video games until they ran out of money, and then society would fall apart! The only way to keep people from being lazy is to make sure they’re working hard so they can learn responsibility!”
I hear different versions of this argument a lot, and it always irks me because it assumes that the majority of people are innately Lazy and Useless, so we have to force them to work just to teach them a lesson.
This argument falls apart when you consider that being forced to work uninspiring, mindless jobs makes you see work solely as a chore, like that dishwashing metaphor I always use for unpleasant tasks Continue reading
Answer: A lot.
I read an amazing article once (which unfortunately I haven’t been able to find again, but here’s a similar one) about how back in the 1900s or so after the Industrial Revolution had changed the way we live, people were optimistic that technology would continue to make our lives more convenient as time went on. People believed that all these awesome new gas-powered cars and factories would reduce the overall amount of work that needed doing, and that the newly reduced workloads would be passed down to the workers. Because machines and automation would be doing so much of the work, people Continue reading
I think a lot about how certain stories stick around through the generations because they reveal universal truths: Romeo and Juliet says a lot about first love, Gulliver’s Travels satirizes mankind’s stupidities, and 1984 explores totalitarian societies across all time (hence the novel’s sudden spike in sales after Trump’s election).
The best superhero stories do the same thing.
I have a friend who can school me in all things Batman and comic book hero-related (Hi Dan), but today I want to talk specifically about Superman, the precursor of them all. Or, as this entry’s title suggests, I want to talk about Clark Kent. Continue reading
I think a lot about where confidence comes from, and why sometimes I’m absolutely full of confidence about the work I’m doing (creative work, Day Job work, and everything else) while other times everything I’m working toward feels meaningless.
It’s amazing how quickly these two mindsets can switch back and forth in the same week, or even the same day, even when nothing’s really changed. I’m still the same person, I still have the same job, I’m still working on the same novel, and I’m still trying to get my writing out there in the same ways. Big successes usually deliver equally large boosts of confidence, while rejections usually set me back more than I care to admit. But most of the time, though, there’s Continue reading
A few months back I painted a bedroom as a present/favor to my old housemates, which brought back a lot of memories from my old Day Job as a housepainter. I like painting because it keeps me ridiculously focused while leaving my mind free to wander, and it provides a good amount of exercise without being too labor intensive. In a lot of ways it’s the ideal Day Job, and if I could find a decent painting position, I’d probably scoop it right up.
This essay I wrote for Four Ties Literary Review sums up my feelings about the relationship between work and writing pretty well, and explains why painting puts me in the ideal frame of mind to do both. The essay’s part of Four Ties’ issue about work in general, so I totally encourage you to check out the other pieces too.
Also, for those interested, I talk a little bit about the novel I’m working on, plus I reveal the identity of my old Secret Work-From-Home Day Job and talk more about how it affected me—since that kind of honesty’s important.
Anyway, I’ll stop rambling so you can check out the real essay, which you should right now.
Those who know me best know that I’ve been using the same blue medium-sized Bic pens since high school, even though Bic redesigned this particular model six or so years ago. (When I saw that the originals were getting harder to find I bought eight boxes of them from a reseller in South Korea and I’ve been using them ever since. Don’t ask me what I’m going to do when I run out, because I’m honest to God not sure.)
From a practical standpoint, I prefer writing in blue because it forms a clearer contrast against black printed text, especially when I’m revising a draft by hand. I also like that the cap on these pens comes off without sticking and that Continue reading
A few weeks ago I met a guy who worked in a large corporate office. I don’t remember his name, and I’ve changed a few biographical details here to protect his anonymity, but I’m writing about him today because he was able to describe his job in one of the most perceptive ways I’d ever heard.
This guy—Mel, I’ll call him—had been working for the same company for ten or so years, and looked to be in his early fifties. Before that he’d worked in restaurants, owned a business, managed a ski lodge, and even been a private investigator. Now, though, he had a family, and lived Continue reading
The title says it all: I needed a change, and a new Day Job is helping to make that happen.
In sticking with my philosophy on keeping your Day Job a secret online, I won’t tell you much about my new way of keeping the bills paid here. Here’s a few things I will say about it, though: Continue reading
I get asked about my Secret Work-From-Home Day Job a lot. Like, a LOT. I think it’s because people are curious about how I keep the bills paid, but there’s also a fair amount of mystification: What kind of job could possibly be so important that Ian feels the need to hide it with such exaggeration?
First off, my Day Job’s nothing special or important—it’s actually pretty boring. But I still don’t talk about it online because I think it’s bad form for anyone (creative person or otherwise) to talk about their Day Jobs online in ways that aren’t pertinent to their professional lives. It’d be one thing if I were starting an amazing new job Continue reading
Renaissance Man (ren-uh-sahns man), n, also called polymath (Greek: πολυμαθής, polymathēs, “having learned much”)
- a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. Such a person is known to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems (Wikipedia)
- a person who has wide interests and is expert in several areas (Merriam-Webster)
I had a friend who was obsessed with the idea of the Renaissance Man (or Woman)—the ideal of gaining expertise in several different areas that you could then use to live a more well-rounded, versatile, and diverse life. Meriwether Lewis, he insisted, was chosen to lead the Corps of Discovery Continue reading