Thursday, February 20, 2014


So the snow has finally receded...maybe. Please? And for the moment there is no more on the horizon. You can't possibly begin to imagine how happy I am at this moment. For all you winter-lovers, sorry, but all of us here in the Tri-State Area are downright sick of it. Not to mention the fact that some places have actually run out of salt to put on the unending supply of black ice!

Anyway, I've been spending a lot of my indoor time watching the Olympics, and I came across a commercial that pretty much horrified me. It started out by talking about how other countries value their leisure time, and take it easy. And here I am thinking, "Finally! Someone will stand up and say that America has a workaholic culture and it's time to do something about it!"

And then it goes on to say that the people in other countries are idiots.

Here in America, you should work your butt off. Why? So you can spend your money on nice things, like this shiny car, and show them off to all your friends! The American working spirit put men on the moon, says the commercial. It made us a top country in the world.

All right, so there is so much wrong here that it is absolutely frightening.

"As for all the stuff? That's the upside of only taking two weeks off."

American determination and drive are good things. I value them. I think that you shouldn't skate by in life, you should work hard to get what you want.

But that's not what this is about. This is about greed, pure and simple. I want this car so I can show my friends and family how much better than them I am. And the more I buy, the better I will feel about myself, so spend, SPEND, SPEND!

You may be wondering where I'm going with this, and how it relates to my writing in some way. Well, it does, so keep reading.

This morning, I read the latest blog post from Deborah Chester, a great sci-fi and fantasy author who also blogs about the writing craft. She reminds us that if left too long, our writing talents will rust. If you stop writing, you'll never get better.

She likens books to fine crystal - a book may take a long time to make, but it will be worthwhile in the end because of its beauty, even if it's not disposable, easily cleaned, or convenient. As Emerson said, "Beauty is its own excuse for being."

The American work ethic is valuable because it encourages us to expand our horizons, to push the limits of what is possible and see what lies beyond. It's not about feeding into the consumerist idea of getting more and more regardless of quality or common sense. It's about working hard enough to achieve your goals, and then stepping back to enjoy the beauty of what you've created, or bought with the income you've earned.

A Cadillac may or may not be a great car. I don't know. But it shouldn't simply be relegated to a status symbol, popular because of the name. Hard work shouldn't be about status, but about substance.

You should work hard to support your family, to create your art, or to be proud of yourself for whatever accomplishments you achieve. But if you're always striving for the next expensive item, then you really have missed the entire point of the American working spirit.

I work hard because I think my writing is of value to the world. I want to write to help people, to give them a place to put away their troubles for a time, characters to relate to so they can feel less alone and awkward, and a world that they can live in and share with others so everyone can enjoy it together. Lofty goals, sure, but if I work hard, I believe I can accomplish them. That's what drives me to succeed.

Perhaps it's just me, but if "caring for others" takes less time than leisure and sports,
you may want to revise your priorities.