I like to say that I don’t work at home–I live at work, which means I can never entirely escape. I wake up and the laptop is there, staring at me–reminding me that because I live in Alaska, I’m already four hours behind the early risers on the East Coast.
So last year I did something I’d been considering for years: I got a day job. A temporary, part-time day job, mind you, helping out in a local greenhouse. It was the ideal arrangement for an independent sort like me: I came and went as I liked; while I was there I got paid to frolic among the orchids and evergreens, turning the latter into various types of Christmas decorations. I’d fantasized about moonlighting in a greenhouse for years, imagining that there’d be no better remedy for a cold, dark Alaskan winter–and I was right.
By the time the job ran its course in about two weeks, I’d gotten what I came for. My greenhouse dalliance wasn’t about the money, you see. I was trying out the idea of having a boss again instead of being one, of answering to somebody–anybody–other than myself, however loosely. I was reminding myself of what it feels like to be an employee, and asking myself if I wanted to go back. Are you sure, self? Are you sure? You’re going on eleven years of this. Have you burnt out on writing?
I enjoyed coming home smelling like cedar and pine. I loved touring past exotic blooms that I’d never imagined outside of pictures. I’ll gladly go back if they need me again for seasonal work, even if I’m already nursing my own little garden along by then. But by the end of those two weeks, I was sure. I don’t write as a hobby or even as a job; I write because it’s still my passion. Words still rule me… and that’s the ideal arrangement for an independent sort like me.