When Artists Retire

image courtesy of The Philip Roth Society

Last week, several American news outlets reported that novelist Philip Roth had written his last book.

Here is an excerpt from an article posted on Salon.com:

Roth said that at 74, realizing he was running out of years, he reread all his favorite novels, and then reread all his books in reverse chronological order. “I wanted to see if I had wasted my time writing,” he said. “And I thought it was rather successful. At the end of his life, the boxer Joe Louis said: ‘I did the best I could with what I had.’ This is exactly what I would say of my work: I did the best I could with what I had.

“And after that, I decided that I was done with fiction. I do not want to read, to write more,” he said. “I have dedicated my life to the novel: I studied, I taught, I wrote and I read. With the exclusion of almost everything else. Enough is enough! I no longer feel this fanaticism to write that I have experienced in my life.”

As an artist at the beginning of my career, Roth’s statements seem hard to believe. With more books to read than I can count, and story ideas that keep me awake at night, how could a lifetime be possibly long enough to read everything I want to read and write everything I want to write?

Roth’s statements bring to light a great debate or paradox for many artists: is being an artist a job or a calling?

Continue reading “When Artists Retire”

Hey “Girl:” Life of a Temp

These past few months while finishing my masters thesis, I’ve been working for a temp agency to earn a little extra cash. With flexible hours, and the chance to get to know  the town I’ve just recently moved to a little better, the experience has, for the most part, been worthwhile.  Being that I’d never worked for a temp agency, there are a few things I’ve discovered worth noting:

photo courtesy of kellyservices.us

1) The vernacular of working for a temp agency.Despite that fact that it is not listed on Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, in this industry, “temping” is a verb. What surprised me was how often I was referred to as “girl” (or “girls” if I was in a group.) This applied to all the female temps, and it did not matter the age of the employees (I had co-workers who were in their 70’s.)Hopefully, this stemmed from the term Kelly Girl® coined by William Russell Kelly, founder of Kelly Services, who started a temp agency by loaning his employees to other businesses, and not from straight misogyny.

Even my boyfriend, who worked for the company as a gravedigger, was a Kelly Girl®. Continue reading “Hey “Girl:” Life of a Temp”