Dear Day Job, I still need you

CRAIG CLIFF
Last updated 09:01 17/07/2011

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Craig Cliff

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OPINION: Dear Day Job,

I know we haven't been seeing as much of each other as we used to, but that doesn't mean we don't still have a future together.

I've been coming in only two days a week these past two months because, well, I'm sure you've figured it out. I've been writing (or trying to write) "the novel", which is like Moby Dick, the elusive white whale, rather than the 800-page masterpiece. Right now, I'd settle for 300 pages without a typo.

It's a hard slog.

A completely different kind of work from what we have together. There are no phone calls with left- field questions, no urgent briefing notes needed yesterday, no meetings (can you imagine!).

Nothing to structure my day around or impose upon my own plans. But do I achieve those plans? Of course not.

The only one disappointed after an unproductive day of writing is me, and I'm just not as scary as some of your people.

No, I won't name names.

Besides, scary is good.

Day Job, when we're apart, I miss the fires you light under me from time to time.

It's amazing what I can do in 20 minutes when there's someone pacing around my pod, waiting for a couple of paragraphs.

Alas, there's no rushing the novel.

There's also no- one to talk to as I make my cups of tea, not even about the weather.

It seems like all the gossip happens the days I don't come in.

And I know there's been some talk that our days are numbered, you and I, that it's only a matter of time before I break it off completely.

Right now, I couldn't think of anything worse.

The truth is, I need you, Day Job.

I need the fortnightly injection into my bank account, however modest. I know that I'll never make up the 60 per cent of my old salary from the meagre sales of my next book or the scattered articles, reviews and short stories I might publish. I know I chose to be poor but productive.

But without our two days a week together, the cupboard would be bare.

I need the reality check you provide on Monday morning after I've spent five days in dreamland.

I need to be around people other than thinly veiled autobiographical figures, Prussian strongmen and my flatmates.

I need the brain refresh that comes with being forced to think about modernising teaching environments and improving learning outcomes.

Because I'm still passionate about those things, our things.

I like feeling like I can make a difference this week, that I can ride in more than one event, that I'm part of something larger than just me (and there are people to hide behind when things go wrong, as they do from time to time).

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I like that it's not just about me when we are together, Day Job. It makes me a better writer when we are apart.

We can make this work.

Day Job, I still need you. I hope you still need me.

Craig Cliff is a writer and policy analyst for the Ministry of Education. He writes a fortnightly column.

- The Dominion Post

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