On being a writer and a [insert wishes here]. When I worked in marketing I used to soothe myself with thoughts of Eliot and others who worked as insurance execs/bankers/etc. but also managed to write poetry. Of course, these folks lived in a time with a better work/home divide, mostly had subservient partners who did everything everything around the house, including the kids, and had no digital world to vie for their free time. Now that I am working on an arts grant, I DO get more done, but not so much that it makes up for the loss of income. Of course, if I were getting paid like a university president, I would likely complain less. All I want is a job I can go into each day and not feel like I need a shower at the end. My last two were like that. Gross. Oh, and I want to get paid like an airhead instagrammer. How about that?
I currently work as a college president. I also write poetry. If I had true courage, I used to tell myself, I would be “only a poet.” But I don’t say that anymore, since after much introspection I have accepted the fact that I love to build and make things, including institutions. Despite all of the criticisms (both deserved and undeserved) that have been leveled at liberal arts education these past few decades, it’s still one of the best gifts American culture has given to the world. I am daily inspired to lead a liberal arts college, with all the academic politics, long term resentments, and bureaucratic entanglements such work entails.