March 25, 2019

What does work do to you?

What does work do to you?

Jamie Redgate, 28

Most fiction is about characters who live lives like we don’t: characters whose jobs matter, whose woes have a face they can shoot at, characters who, between one exciting plot beat and the next, can look at their bank accounts without flinching. If by some mad chance a fictional character has a job you’d actually recognise then it is treated like their ablutions: everyone sort of knows it’s happening in the gaps between scenes, but no one wants the details. People have to suffer details every day. It’s what we read books to get some blessed reprieve from.

But I’m tired of fiction like this. I’m tired of heroes, tired of their convenient wealth, tired of job loss as a plot point instead of the end of the world. Fiction is supposed to be the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves. Fiction like this seems divorced from any life I know.

Maybe it’s so difficult to write about work precisely because work, for most people, is the opposite of humanity, the opposite of living.

Maybe that’s why it’s so vital we do.

Maybe we have no choice but to.