The Literature of Working Life


Nicholas Russell’s Website. Work is not a Four Letter Word


Most people spend half their waking lives at work and many derive their greatest satisfactions and disappointments from the workplace.

But the range of workplaces in text, sound, and vision is narrow with disproportionate screen time and word count spent in hospital wards, police stations, law courts, classrooms, combat zones, and generalised offices. And when they do occur, such locations are usually found in soap operas, genre films and fiction, documentary and reality television, or in memoir and biography.

You have to search hard for anything beyond this limited range of spaces or find significant workplace action in non-genre or literary fiction. Where are the racy novels set in engineering laboratories or the prize-winning literary treatments of the human condition played out in design studios or rehearsal rooms?

It is true that stories often have characters with specific professions or trades, run subplots with protagonists relating to their work colleagues, or that explore the wider implications of new ideas, techniques or procedures emanating from creative workplaces. But stories that focus on what people do all (working) day, rather than on their personal relationships are comparatively rare.

There seems to be a gaping hole in the middle of literature, half of everybody’s life is pretty well ignored. This site exists to explore the reasons for this omission and to encourage writers to fill it in.



There are some details about my background and how I became interested in a Literature of Working Life on the About Page.



To contact me about the site or its contents, please use the form on the Contact Page.



There is one of my short stories on the Stories Page at the moment. It is about the insecurities everyone feels when starting a new job for which (inevitably) they feel unprepared.



There is one article on the Essays Page at the moment. It is a brief description of some of the short stories and story collections which have concentrated on working life.



With luck there will be fairly regular, brief posts on the Blog Page.