Reading Notebook #16: Life Interferes With Work & Vice Versa

From Bill Murray interview in Entertainment Weekly (via

“I just really want to work when I want to work. Life interferes, you know. When you’re young and all you have is your career, some of your life can be in second place. And then you want your life to take first place, and other people don’t see it that way. They see it that your life has to take second place, and it’s hard. Life is really hard, and it’s the only one you have. I mean, I like doing what I do, and I know I’m supposed to do it, but I don’t have anything to bring to it if I don’t live my life.”

Starbucker comments:

“Bill Murray [says] my life is in first place. But he adds something worth paying particular attention to, which I will paraphrase here: If I can’t bring my life to my work, I’m not going to do that work. Life is hard enough.

Let’s stop there for a second. That’s an easy thing to say when you already have more money than you can possibly need, and the main tangible output of work (read, money) isn’t an issue. Mr. Murray certainly is in that category.

How does it play out for those of us who aren’t in that situation? There’s the rub, as Hamlet would say.”

Go read the full, inspiring post.

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Jane Friedman has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. From 2001–2010 she worked at Writer's Digest, where she ultimately became publisher; more recently, she was an editor at the Virginia Quarterly Review, where she led digital strategy. Jane currently teaches writing and publishing at the University of Virginia and is a columnist for Publishers Weekly. The Great Courses just released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. She also has a book forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press, The Business of Being a Writer (2017). Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.
Posted in Life Philosophy, Reading, Work-Life.


  1. Pingback: Viewpoint: Life after spying – BBC News - Latest, top stories in the U.S. - Top Stories in the U.S.

  2. Excellent article. Here's the response I left over there:

    One of the things I've always believed is – you are what you want to be. Each day you make a choice which path you will follow and how much compassion and love you're willing to part with. Simple things with huge consequences. No matter what we do, in the end it's all part of the living. The question is how do you want to live. (Hugs)Indigo

    I'm not simply remarking on the above. I've learned to choose life above all else. Sadly, it took me going deaf 5 years ago, to realize at all cost – the living must come first. What we lose in the consequences is small in comparision.

  3. I suppose the lived life Mr. Murray speaks of is a Thoreauvian one. A life where you can choose how you interact with the world and what you do for work. For most of us, our work is our job—or our day job. In truth, it is our life or at least fifty to eighty percent of it. Life and work are difficult. Sometimes you have to do both whether or not you have anything interesting to offer.

    We may not be able to stop working in order “to live” life, but we can choose how we react to it (life and work). If so motivated, we can even attempt to improve or add meaning to it. This, of course, will depend upon how we count success and how willing we are to reinvent ourselves. Ideally, we all should imbue our lives and our work with curiosity and new experiences. Instead of seeing work as separate, we should acknowledge it as an equal portion of our life. We, then, can strive to make our life better by making our work better.

    If all aspects of our lives become balanced in some adventurous way, then we never have to say, “I have nothing to bring to it,” because we are always already bringing something new to it: perspective.


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