Not too long ago, I was having a discussion with the cat, trying to nudge her along in her morning routine so that I could get back to the computer and my latest writing project.
The words out of my mouth made me pause for thought: “Please Ivy, Daddy needs to get back to work.”
I think that I said the word “work” out of habit more than anything else. But I started questioning whether it really was the most appropriate word to describe the fun I have pursuing my calling for writing and storytelling.
If you have read any of my blog posts over the last eight years, you know that this what I have been preparing for, to apply everything I’ve learned about writing through the years and being able to create for the pure enjoyment of it.
It was my #1 plan for my retirement years, and I am finally at the desk, downloading ideas from my brain, at a rate that sometimes surprises myself. With so many writing projects that have been buzzing around in my head for years, I feel like I am in a pretty crazy catch-up mode.
But is it “work”? To me, it doesn’t feel like it.
The various definitions online seem to follow a common core, but some are tainted with a negative slant or synonyms like “toil”, “exertion”, “drudgery” and “grind.”
Even though Merriam-Webster does indeed offer a secondary definition that accurately reflects my mission with “something produced by the exercise of creative talent or expenditure of creative effort : artistic production,” the negative synonyms still leave a bad taste in my mouth.
When I scan through the definitions, there doesn’t seem to be any that aren’t neutral in tone nor negative in tone. That being the case, in the English language, does uplifting, energizing work defy definition? What does that say about us as a society?
If uplifting work can’t be described in a single word, have we failed? Have we pre-programmed ourselves to see work in a negative light if our own language doesn’t leave the possibility open to be joyful in what we do?
What a great marketing campaign for future generations when the term “work” comes with exclusively neutral and negative connotations.
Are we not allowed to be exuberant about our work?
I don’t think my work life in career #1 was so different than other people’s in saying that there were professional peaks and valleys, good days and bad days. I think that’s pretty normal in any career.
But because the work aligned with my core values and always felt meaningful to me, even in the valleys I wouldn’t have used the negative synonyms above. Maybe I was lucky.
In checking out the antonyms for “work” trying desperately to find a better descriptor for Ivy, there was more negativity to be found: “idleness”, “laziness”, “failure”, “unemployment” and “loss”. Linguistically speaking, even in the opposites to “work”, happiness is hard to find.
To be fair, we do see “play”, “pastimes” and “leisure” in the list of antonyms, but as a society we’ve set a boundary in that those three words happen outside of the hours in which we earn a paycheque.
That being the case, in the absence of a more upbeat term, I guess I will have to continue referring to writing as “work”, despite seeming so wrong.
Its neutral or sometimes negative connotations seem inappropriate when I feel joyful and fulfilled in finally being able to be the writer, blogger and screenwriter I was meant to be.
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Have a great day,