WHAT IS WORK ?
THE MEANING AND DEFINITION OF WORK
RAMBLINGS OF A WANNABE WRITER
According to my wife, work means physical effort.
In her parlance, work is associated with physical labour. There must be some visible physical effort, some movement involved – yes, physical movement is the key attribute defining work.
That’s why when I was in the Navy my wife was very happy, since, according to her, I was “working” very hard. In the Navy there is a lot of physical movement, everyone and everything is moving all the time, and so was I.
There is a saying in the Navy:
If it moves, salute it
if it doesn't move, pick it up
if you can't pick it up, paint it
Work was associated with movement. The more you were seen moving, the more hardworking you were considered. It did not matter whether you were achieving anything or not. So, since everyone wanted to appear hardworking, everyone was on the move all the time – saluting, picking up things and painting things they could not pick up.
My wife loved to see me on the move all the time and when I returned home physically exhausted after a hard day of “work” she was convinced that I was working very hard.
“I wish you had never retired,” my wife moans, “you just don’t do any work now-a-days. All you do is sit at home in front of your laptop whole day.”
“What about those techies – those IT Nerds?” I ask, “they sit on their backsides all day in comfortable air-conditioned offices, are transported back and forth to office in company buses, have a relaxed five day week and all the perks – they don’t even have to lift a finger.”
“They earn loads of money,” my sister-in-law says.
Oh, so that’s the second definition of work.
Work is associated with earning money. The more money you earn, the more you are working – the amount of work you do is directly proportional to the amount of money you earn.
Whereas physical effort counts as work, whether you earn money or not, intellectual effort does not count as work, unless it earns you a lot of money.
To put it in gobbledygook:
Physical Work and Money may be mutually independent of each other; whereas Intellectual Work and Money are mutually interdependent, in fact, the quantum of intellectual work is measured the amount of money you earn for doing that work.
Now-a-days I am a wannabe writer. I spend my whole day reading, writing, surfing the internet and blogging and in doing these activities there is hardly any visible physical effort involved. So in my wife’s parlance I do not do any work.
Also, at present, my writing does not earn me any money. Yes, I have published a book (which has not earned much money, at least till now). I am an avid blogger and write a blog post almost every day (this does not earn me any money too since I have not monetized my blog). And the novel I am trying to write (my wife wonders whether it will ever see the light of day) – I don’t know whether or when it will earn me any money. So, as per the second definition too, I don’t do any work.
Yes, it is so simple – while I engage in creative writing, I am not seen making much physical effort and I don’t seem to me making any money from my writing, so I don’t do any work – QED. I am a lazy good-for-nothing guy who is wasting my time and doing nothing.
Maybe the novel I am writing will become a bestseller and earn me some money. Maybe someone my buy the movie rights of my novel and I may rake in the moolah – then the “effort” I am putting in my writing will qualify as “work”.
Till then, as far as my darling “hard working” wife and “money making” sister-in-law are concerned, the only “work” I do is to take my pet dog Sherry for a walk in the morning and in the evening!
“You are such a qualified, experienced and talented guy. Why are you not working? Why do sit at home whole day doing nothing? I am sure you can get a good job. As an Engineer, Designer, Manager, Consultant, even as a Professor – you don’t know your true worth – you can earn lots of money. Even if you want to write, the least you can do is write some professional stuff instead of writing fiction. ”
I have to hear all these taunts all the time from all sorts of people.
Yes, it’s true, I have got many lucrative job offers. I can easily get a good job and “work” whole day.
But why don’t they understand? I don’t want a “job”. I want to write fiction. I want to write a novel. I want to write stories. I have found my “calling” – I have discovered my metier, my true vocation – creative writing.
I want to spend the rest of life writing, surrounded by my books and my diaries in which I have made notes all these years, in front of my laptop, researching on the internet, hammering away at the keyboard, writing fiction.
Yes, I am going to write – I will write my novel, I will write on my blog, I will write short stories, I will write whatever I want to write – but I am going to write, and I am going to focus on writing what I like best - fiction.
Well, if you think I am wasting my time doing nothing – so be it.
To those who say that I don’t do any work, good luck to you – I just don’t care what you say.
Because I am going to be busy writing. I know that this is hard work and I am working harder than I ever worked in my whole life, though it is not visible to you – either by way of physical effort or earning money.
And whenever I get the writer’s block, I’ll go off on a walk thinking creative thoughts with my pet dog Sherry who seems to be the only person who understands me.
I’ll end with an anecdote, a true story, narrated by a famous writer.
The writer’s wife scolded him: “You say that you are a writer but I hardly see you writing. Most of the time you relax in your chair with your eyes closed.”
“Yes, I am “writing” all the time,” the writer said, “do you know what creative writing is? Writing is 90% creative thinking and only 10% is the physical process of writing.”