How many times have you heard people say, “I wish I could be my own boss”?
How many times have you said it?
Me? Never. I am a terrible boss. I can’t delegate. I don’t plan. If I did accidentally create a plan, it would be out of date by this time tomorrow.
Worst of all, as the boss I would let me get away with anything. I could spend all day surfing the web right under my nose and I wouldn’t say diddly. I would constantly pressure me to give myself more time off with pay. At least salaries would be transparent. And sexual harassment in the workplace is totally up to me. Annual performance reviews are still meaningless though.
But being the boss really is hard. That’s why managers make more $$$ than employees. It’s easier to be a follower than a leader.
Don’t believe me? I remember taking a management course some years ago. We each had to lead a blindfolded colleague out the door, around the parking lot, under some tree branches, and back to the conference room, all without letting our charge get a broken ankle or bruised noggin. Then we reversed roles.
Once the blindfold was on, and the blindness-induced mini-freakout had passed, I found it really is easier to be the guy being led rather than the guy doing the leading.
Try the above experiment with a friend, or if you have no friends, imagine yourself in my shoes. It drives home the fact if you are a leader, you have to watch your step and the steps of the poor blind schmuck you are leading. If you are a follower, all you have to do is close your eyes and put one foot in front of the other.
Assuming, of course, that you trust your leader. So I guess I should amend my previous statement: that’s why good managers make more $$$ than employees. Bad managers make more $$$ for a while and then are forced into early retirement and given golden parachutes. I guess the lesson here is, even if you are an idiot, life is better at the top.
Anyway, not wanting to be your own boss is a real problem for an aspiring writer. I have never heard of a writer being under the thumb of anyone beyond an editor and a conscience, and perhaps a spouse or a bill collector. Actually that’s the same thing.
We all need an inner boss forcing us to write. It’s all too easy to find something else to do, and it’s not hard to find something more lucrative, like designing websites or holding bikini car washes.
Instead of sending your Girl Scout into the cold world to pound pavement and sell Thin Mints to raise money for her upcoming jamboree — assuming they have those — just tell her to write a short story and sell it to The New Yorker. Yeah, that will work.
(No I’m not suggesting Girl Scouts should do bikini car washes. The two thoughts were non sequitur. Besides, I would take a box of Tagalongs or Do-si-dos over a clean car any day.)
Thus it’s safe to say a writer has to learn to be his or her own boss.
Like it or not.
Sadly, my boss-employee relationship has begun to deteriorate. I demanded a new laptop because seriously, you can’t get the best work without the best tools. But I told myself no, the money isn’t in the budget, sell a story first — to which I immediately retorted, I saw you going out for lunch every day this week, don’t talk to me about budget! And how about taking me with you once in a while? Calm down, can’t we just shake hands? Hell no, I saw where you put that hand. Then the argument just gets silly.