Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Best Job Ever

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During Q&As, I'm often asked why I became a writer. My favourite answer is that I did it because I didn't want to have a job. It's a response that is only partially facetious.

Most jobs involve an individual participating in some sort of chain of production in our world, some sort of service, sometimes almost thoroughly for money, other times to make oneself of use. A writer, an artist, in my opinion, doesn't really fit in to any of that.

Oscar Wilde said, in the introduction to "A Picture of Dorian Gray," (if my memory serves me well) that "You can forgive a man for making a useful thing, as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely. All art is useless."

A writer of fiction, a creator of art, has no job. Even though, on the surface, he or she is essentially a story teller, in essence, he/she is simply exploring what it is to be alive. They aren't telling others how to live, what to believe, or how to treat others; they aren't performing a "useful" task. If they do it well, it is poignant, reveals truths, and sometimes ... can be magical.

To me, the greatest thing about being alive, is the experience of living. We human beings are very conscious of our own existence, more so, I think, than any other living thing. Art, fiction, comes from that consciousness, from thinking about who and what we are, and why we are, and then turning it into something attractive, perhaps even beautiful. It follows then, that the greatest, or at least perhaps the purest thing that one might do as a human being, is to try to create art. Art comes only from human beings.

So, really, I don't have a job. I don't know if I'm truly an artist or not, but I'm trying. I'm attempting to experience the life I'm living and record it in stories. Writing this blog for the month of October 2010 has been, in its own little way, a version of that. I've tried to tell anyone who cared to read my tiny thoughts over the month, a little of what it was like to be living and thinking during that period. I've certainly enjoyed it. Thanks to Open Book Toronto for the opportunity.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Shane Peacock

Shane Peacock is a biographer, journalist, screenwriter, playwright and novelist. He has received many honours for his writing, including the prestigious Arthur Ellis Award for Eye of the Crow, the first of his Boy Sherlock Holmes series.

Go to Shane Peacock’s Author Page