‘The Giver’ and the Dissociation of Being an Artist

The other day, in a completely unrelated conversation about day jobs with a friend who doesn’t have a creative ‘night’ job on the side, I thought back on Lois Lowry’s The Giver (which I was fortunate enough to have read in the Croatian translation as a teen), and I realized that, for some people, their day jobs are enough. To some people, their chosen and/or accidental career that they’ve settled in, when it’s an okay workplace and stuff, is enough.

If you haven’t had the pleasure, the distopian setting of The Giver has people getting selected into their current careers, mostly after school, and most of the jobs are the sort of normal, regular type of positions you might be able to get in a bunch of contemporary countries in RL. (Not all, of course—but I don’t actually remember there being any kind of artistic and/or creative jobs in the setting, which might be a memory thing, or an actual feature of the book.)

Lately—and after almost two years of being the co-owner of a micro publishing business as well as a writer—I’ve begun thinking that no non-creative jobs would’ve been enough for me, though, long-term, in this setting. No matter what they were. No matter how perfect the daily flow, the workplace, the colleagues and the benefits.

I am honestly not sure why it took so long for me to realize this. Was it because I never thought of myself as ‘artistically talented’ as a kid, no matter the fact that ‘it was known’ I wrote acceptably well? (I’m definitely one of those people for whom the ‘work’ part played a considerably bigger role than the ‘talent’.) Or because I could never draw for shit, and writing, unfortunately, is rather less visible as a creative outlet? Was it my family (whom I honestly love and who are supportive on this publishing journey)—which had never produced any sort of artistic type before, and a regular career was a given for everybody? Or was it the fact (deep sigh) that, as a geriatric millennial, I’d honestly expected to settle in a job for the rest of my working life (that was before 2008, not to even mention 2020), and I’d actually expected to love the career I’d chosen as an eighteen year old?

‘Late bloomer’ covers all sorts of issues with my life, apparently. Well. Here I am now.

And the idea that people are actually happy in their (office-dwelling) day jobs seems… impossible. I can’t stress enough how happy that makes me feel, though—and I wish there were more normal day jobs, and more cooperative bosses, and less everything which makes the common workplace a, umm, mistake for many people who are actually practicing their artistic craft. Not to mention people who can’t make a living from any sort of day job available to them.The idea of ‘two jobs’ hits very differently when the second job is a self-employed venture, one you chose because you had the time,the resources and the energy to pursue something like that.

So. Two steps to the left… close your eyes… fingers crossed… and liftoff.

Let’s find out what happy means.


Photo by Nicholas Kampouris on Unsplash.

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