Thursday 17 September 2020

The Joy of Work

Emotionally speaking, my job is a very difficult one. I put myself under a lot of pressure. If I haven't got two stories done by the end of the day, I feel badly. If I spell something wrong and editorial doesn't find it, I feel worse. If editorial puts its own mistakes in, I am incandescent with rage. 

There is also the challenge of getting the story right. This is particularly difficult now, when the mainstream news (especially about Covid-19) changes so fast and contradicts itself so often, you would think we were living in Orwell's Oceana.  I have contradictory stories and voices and slogans coming at me all the time. That would be fine if I cared only for a narrative and not about truth, but like everyone else at work, I'm a believing Christian and truth is a big deal. Truth is the only deal. 

Then there's the disapproval of wider society. On Facebook a woman with whom I went to (Catholic) high school responded to one of my posts with "Pro-lifers don't care about children after they're born." This was so hackneyed and obviously wrong that I was stunned. In the end I wrote back "Do you know any pro-lifers besides me? Do you think I don't care about children?"  

Then there was the weird moment when I clicked on Mark Shea's Twitter handle and discovered he had blocked me. As far as I know, I have never spoken, let alone written, badly about Mark Shea in my entire life. Au contraire. I've been blocked by someone else at Patheos, too, and I really don't know why. 

I've been trying to submit two-to-three stories a day for over three years, though B.A.'s illnesses, hospitalisations, surgeries, radiotherapy, Covid-19 furlough, and now Covid-19 redundancy. When the fire system in the Historical House exploded, and we had to leave, I submitted stories from wherever we slept. When we are told we weren't coming back, and B.A. was told he needed radiotherapy, I submitted stories and negotiated to purchase a home at the same time. Meanwhile, I get as much annual leave as the average American or Canadian worker gets. All around me the British get 28 days off, plus public holidays. Twenty-eight days. Can you even imagine?

Anyway, I had a Very Bad Day a week ago, and it was so bad, it stopped the two-to-three-a-day train in its tracks. It was so bad, I agreed to call a therapist. It was so bad, I'm not going to tell you about it. I have been miserable. I'm miserable because I just want to write my two-to-three stories and feel good about it afterwards. 

However, I spent yesterday reading an interesting book for review, and then I interviewed its very clever author. I was so wrapped up in our conversation, that afterwards I felt great. I still hadn't submitted anything, but I felt so much better. The joy of work is a wonderful joy. It's one of the best joys. Usually it keeps me going.



  1. Sorry to hear about the bad day. You've been a help to me over the years, giving good advice on the Catholic dating market and contributing to getting me to explore the Extraordinary Form, so I know there are many others who appreciate your work. I think all Catholics have experiences similar to what you're going through these days. Working in media only makes it worse. Regarding Mark Shea's twitter block, I think there are tools called "blockchains" that can be used to block anybody who follows certain other accounts. I'm pretty sure the block wasn't personal, or it was directed at general category of people. I've discovered that I'm blocked by people I've never met in person or even online.

  2. Thank you for sharing your peaks and valleys. I am relieved to hear you've been able to regain that joy. I worry especially for those without steady work right now. Financial struggles are bad enough, but purposeful work can make such a difference in one's outlook and wellbeing. Prayers that things continue to look up!

  3. I've followed you around from blog to blog ever since the Seraphic Singles blog and have always been helped by your writing. And, though I am very sorry you had a Difficult Day, I know that over the years, the posts about your difficult days helped me the most. I hope you don't have any more, of course, but I'd just like you to know that your sharing them might bring more people to God. So thank you.

    1. And thank you! That's a very interesting perspective, and a reminder that great good can come out of unintended bad.