Friday, April 11, 2014

#atozchallenge: Jobs R Us

2014: A Year In Stories
A twelve-volume anthology published by Pure Slush Books
Does your occupation define you? Or does who you are define your occupation?

I submit that, in a world that relies on stereotypes, jobs become a part of society's perception of us--accurate or not. And fiction's no different. The work that a character does becomes a cornerstone of the image we create of this person.

Am I right or am I right?

These are the jobs some of the 2014 characters have. Unconventional, borderline stardom, eccentric, mundane. What kind of person do you think they are? Share in the comments; I'd love to know.

MATT POTTERMorgana Malone starts the series on her first day (Jan 25th) in a new volunteer position: guide in an art gallery. In February she's working as the Admin Junior in her ex-husband's therapy practice, 'up-managing' the Admin Senior, the ex-porn star Zebadie who is set to marry Morgana's ex-husband Grigor. (Zebadie can't use a computer for the patient billing while Morgana can.) Through the middle of the year she is unemployed and spending too much time on the internet. Then she takes a job delivering junk mail for 'Knights of the Polish Cross' sauvignon blanc. Later, under family pressure, she starts work in the family business, a bakery... and just what she is doing by the end, in December, who knows... But the last day will be Christmas Day so it may well involve food and Christmas cheer.

SUSAN TEPPERPedersen doesn't make a living, he collects checks from his stint at Desert Storm. They probably discharged him on mental disability.

MANDY NICOLNadia is a seamstress. She loves fabric and colour and fashion and creating with her hands. She's a very good seamstress. She works from home--great idea, hey? Be your own boss, work your own hours, no commute to deal with. Except she lives with her demanding and overbearing mother so she is slowly but very surely suffocating.

MICHAEL WEBBMark Hamilton is an American professional baseball player, specifically a short reliever. He is not a star, but is very well compensated, and has managed to earn a good living through his career. He is a somewhat fungible commodity, valuable, but not special, someone who gets the team out of a sticky late game situation, ideally preserving a lead so that the team's star reliever can come in and earn the save and the glory at the end. His team is never specifically named, but he and his family live in Arizona full time, since his oldest son is now in elementary school.

He is uncomfortable with the fame and money that comes with so simple a profession, but he has no other really marketable skills, so he is somewhat happy to keep doing it for as long as they wish to pay him to do so. He understands the necessity of the constant travel, but he misses his family, specifically his daughter, who he barely knows because he has been gone for so much of her life. He also knows well that the attrition rate for professional pitchers is very high, so he constantly fears a career ending injury that would force him to get a real job.

STEPHEN V. RAMEYStephen is a writer, which at this point means he picks up a few dollars with nonfiction and editing, but is mostly focused on his fiction. The first three novels were never finished, but he's working on one now that's going to put him on the map. Anne manages a museum and volunteers with a local nonprofit. Stephen resents that she has sold out her dream. Anne resents that Stephen has sold out their marriage: if he worked part time, at least, life would be much easier.

Jobs are relevant to the story cycle, in that they provide tension between Stephen and Anne and narrative complication. Writing credentials get Stephen into the tent city and allow him to repeatedly avoid dealing with real problems. Anne's volunteer work brings them into direct conflict in one chapter.

GUILIE CASTILLO: Luis Villalobos is a tax lawyer, and a damned good one. His father is a lawyer, too; so was his grandfather, and two of his uncles. He got his first legal dictionary when he was seven, and he carried it around in his bookbag. It made him feel safe: he belonged in his family, his future was clear.

For Luis, his profession is a means to an end, and that end is fame and fortune. Fortune, first; fame only in the right circles. His profession is membership to the ultimate club of exclusivity. Which is why he came so close to turning down the Curaçao offer. A backwater in the Caribbean after the greatest financial centers of the world? But there was the possibility--certainty, if one read between the lines--of taking over as Managing Director next year. And that was irresistible.

~ * ~ 

What image did you form for these characters? Did you change your mind about whether a job defines you?

Thanks for visiting, and happy A-to-Z-ing!



19 comments :

  1. In the best possible circumstances, our jobs align with our gifts and identity and become more than a job, they become a calling. But in the best fiction, there's often a rub. Because having everything already perfect doesn't offer much opportunity for conflict, tension and growth.

    Happy A-Zing!
    Laurel
    Laurel's Leaves

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so right, Laurel... What makes us happy in real life doesn't make for compelling fiction. There's a lesson in there somewhere, isn't there? Maybe later, with more coffee...

      Thanks for the visit! Off to check out your blog :)

      Delete
  2. In my WIP The Soul Collector's Second Chance, they are most definitely defined by their job. Each Devil's agent is partnered with a human and their jobs become intertwined in the plot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That would be the perfect example, Susan, yes. Thanks for sharing!

      Delete
  3. I'm currently unemployed so..... lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, JoJo. So am I, by the way. Wonder what that says about us? ;)

      Delete
  4. Definitely in fiction, I think a job kind of defines the character. It is one tool the writer can use to add that element of detail in defining the character, unless the story line requires something different. Interesting post!

    http://peeekaaabooo.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the input, Madhu! I agree--in fiction jobs are a great tool to convey character. I'm curious, though, if the same applies to real life. When you meet someone for the first time and you find out what kind of job they have, how much does that contribute to your perception of them? And is that an accurate perception or not? Hmmm...

      Thanks for the visit :)

      Delete
  5. Writing YA, most of my characters are too young to enter the professional world. This is fantastic food for thought for when I do tackle more mature characters!

    WriterlySam
    Echoes of Olympus
    A to Z #TeamDamyanti

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm... Interesting. How would this concept of characterization-by-job apply to YA? Student vs non-student, maybe? Knowing someone's a drop-out gives a huge impression. Or perhaps what subjects they're good at in school? How good a student they are? Whether they play sports or chess? How much time they spend in the library? Good point, Sam. Thanks for adding to the conversation!

      Delete
  6. A job helps in character building in fiction. But like in real life they could be living on two or more jobs - one to earn livelihood and one to follow their passions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point, Aditi. And probably that same distinction--which job is for livelihood, which for passion--would build character, right? Same as in real life ;)

      Delete
  7. Hi Guilie .. I love the story of your Curacao roots - is that right .. I've had lots of job experiences - but not at the high level - but I guess I could read up on those! So many people have hidden talents as Aditi mentions .. doing two or three things to fuel up that passion ... cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Hilary! Indeed, in a perfect world we'd all be able to make a living doing what feeds our passions... Maybe someday :) Not sure what you meant about my Curaçao roots, though--I'm Mexican, born, bred, and raised :D

      Thanks for the visit!

      Delete
  8. Interesting post Gulie. I feel one should follow their heart and do things that they love doing:) Passion is thy name.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed, Vishal. Which is why I quit my job in financial services to write full-time. Loving it, yes, but I must say I do miss that paycheck ;)

      Thanks for the visit!

      Delete
  9. Does your occupation define you? Or does who you are define your occupation?
    WOW !
    what do I say about this one, just yesterday I was thinking of that one profession which I want to pursue for a life time, I have no clue !

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...