Let’s face it, unless you have a book on the New York Times Best Seller‘s list, a healthy trust fund or a hardworking spouse that doesn’t mind supporting you until you are a household name then you probably need to work a “day job“.
My life so far has seen me try many occupations. I have worked in a mail room, cooked pizzas for a fast food delivery place, done door-to-door political canvassing, been a tutor at a junior college, bar bouncer and worked my way from the kid who dipped fish out of the aquarium tanks with a net to assistant manager of a big-box retail store.
Most recently, I did a short stint as an outdoor construction laborer. I tore down and installed seamless rain-guttering. I must not have been too good at it as I stopped getting called for jobs. Just yesterday, I was hired by a Christian-owned hobby supply store as a backroom stock man (stock “boy” is too pejorative I guess). It is hard physical work but the gig is temporary and seasonal as they only hired me to get through their busy holiday season. I am looking at picking up work as a substitute teacher and of course I am trying to pick up even more freelance writing work.
Freelance writing is sort of a hustle and you have to constantly be looking for and following up leads on new work. When the new work just isn’t there then you need the dreaded “day job”. I’m a writer but to pay the bills I will do just about anything.
Nothing is sexier than saying, “Hey, I’m a writer”…right?
My needs are few. Food in the fridge and comfortable place to sit are really the only priorities. Give me an internet connection and a lap top to write on and I am happy. Still with these few needs, the bills need paid.
What did famous writers do to pay the bills? An article in Flavorwire revealed the Strange Day Jobs of Authors Before They Were Famous. Writers struggling to get their first works published are often told “Don’t Quit Your Day Job” but just what kinds of crazy jobs do you imagine those writers had. I will make a column of famous writers and a column of possible employment and try to match them up. When you are done guessing then click on the article in Flavorwire to check your answers.
J.D. Salinger Singer
George Saunders Floor Model at Bloomingdale’s
Franz Kafka School Janitor
Tom McCarthy Exterminator
John Steinbeck Managed a Saab Dealership
William Faulkner Guinea Pig for CIA Psych Experiments
T.S. Eliot Busboy
Jack London Selling Dental Products By Phone
Nicholas Sparks University Postmaster
Wells Tower Condom Shop (NOT sex shop)
Kurt Vonnegut Guided Tours of a Fish Hatchery
Siri Hustvedt Nude Model
Steven King Workmen’s Accident Insurance
William S. Burroughs . Worked in a Slaughterhouse
James Joyce Worked on a Swedish Luxury Liner
Remember that the “day jobs” and authors are mixed up but see how many you can guess before you check the answers.
What “day jobs” do you work? What is the craziest “day job” that you have had to work? What is the “day job” for a writer? Is working a “day job” a help or a hindrance to a career as a professional writer? What do you think? Leave your answers in the comments.
- Day Job Meets Freelance (nicoecenarro.com)
- Writer with a Day Job by Aine Greaney (gwynplainelives.wordpress.com)
- Get A New Story: Your Day Job Is Not Your Problem (scriptmag.com)
- The Early Jobs of 24 Famous Writers (mentalfloss.com)
- Day Job (charlotteblackwood.wordpress.com)
- The peculiar work of a writer (writeaubreywrite.wordpress.com)
- Top 5 Day Jobs for Writers (joannegphillips.wordpress.com)
- How My Day Job Improved My Writing (storywritingstudio.wordpress.com)