Deviated: A Memoir
Aside from a brief stint as a writing tutor during graduate school, I have managed to avoid respectable employment all my adult life. There was a time, after I earned my graduate degree and before I sold my first novel, when it looked like I might have to get an office job. I remember one interview with one stultifying prospective boss; it took him a half hour to describe the important tasks I would be called upon to perform, such as licking envelopes—a half hour I spent steadily withdrawing into a cocoon of self-pity, so that when he finally paused to ask if I was up for the challenge, I said, “Huh?” and wasn’t called back.
I don’t take my self-employment for granted. I commute 30 feet. I have the privilege to spend a great amount of time watching my son grow up. I have access to a supply of snacks rivaling that of a Silicon Valley start-up circa 1997. Still, there are drawbacks, most of them courtesy of the federal government. Some are minor, like having to pay estimated quarterly taxes, which for a writer with multiple contracts coming due at unpredictable times is a bewildering process akin to picking the next eight winners of the Kentucky Derby. More painfully, I am subject to the full amount of Medicare and Social Security tax, a burden more often shared with one’s employer.
About the Author
Jesse Kellerman is the author of four novels, including The Genius and, most recently, The Executor. His novel Potboiler will be published by Putnam in June. His April 2009 Commentary article, “Let My People Go to the Buffet,” was included in The Best Spiritual Writing 2011.