Good Day’s Work

In 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed a law declaring the first Monday of September as a workers holiday after labor unions pushed for recognition of both the contributions and mistreatment of American workers. Some of the laws that protect workers today—the forty-hour workweek, minimum wage, and health coverage—began with celebrating Labor Day. Workplace struggles can inspire great writing, whether it be about feeling stuck in a dead-end job, as in Raven Leilani’s novel Luster (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020), or real-life experiences, as in Philip Levine’s collection What Work Is (Knopf, 1991), in which the poems offer a portrait of assembly line workers. Write a short story centered around a protagonist’s relationship with a job. Try to tease out the spiritual and physical repercussions of our society’s relationship with work in your fiction.