Monday, 28 June 2010

Fantasy part-time jobs for writers

It is a truth universally acknowledged throughout the writing world that no writer ever makes a killing. It's just not a profitable industry, this. Most writers spend their lives hunched bitterly over cramped desks in the corner of their bedroom / living room, cursing the day they ever lifted up that fountain pen, wishing they had taken up economics instead. And then they die, penniless, forgotten by all but a handful of faithful readers, leaving behind debts that run to five or more figures.

So much for making a living from writing, dear readers. But how are we to make our living, if not from the words we produce? All of us, to a man, most have a soul-crushing day job, if not to stop the landlord from throwing us out from under their roofs, carpets and all, but also to provide us with the actual time and material one needs to keep writing.

Readers do not despair, and behold: for I bring you a comprehensive list of the best possible day-jobs a writer can have.

Job one: librarian Most writers write for one solitary reason: words. Words, and maybe books. We love books. They smell funny. They've got notes written in the margins, curved, battered spines, and pages with the corners bent over. Their covers may sometimes look hilariously out-dated, but the words within will stand the test of time. They say what they mean obliquely, with a language unique to each writer, and they transport us away from our miserable little lives, one sentence at a time. Writers love books, they can't get enough of them. What better way to enjoy the company of books than by surrounding yourself with them? (The odd bit of book-stamping and interaction with members of the public notwithstanding).

Job two: Filing clerk The problem with most day-jobs is that they actively take time away from what you want to do, viz. writing. What better way to combine the dual pursuits of earning money to live, and finding time to write, than by finding a job that practically pays you to write your novel? Filing rooms are strange places. Filled with dust and bizarre categorisation systems, the filing room provides the young filing clerk with everything he needs to complete his first magnum opus. The smartest file-clerk arranges his filing-den into a colour-coded, labyrinthine system which nobody else in the building can fathom. This stops anyone else coming up to look for things themselves. The writer & filing clerk has done well: he has found a job that pays him to write, and he won't get interrupted while he's doing it.

Job three: Sales assistant in B&Q All human life finds its way to the hardware store. The young couple in the act of putting up shelves in their new home; the embittered, ageing old couple who no longer have anything to say to each other, buying a shed to enable one of them to escape into the garden. Hardware stores, even more than supermarkets, are a breeder for disagreement between husband and wife. Trawl the aisles of any branch of Sainsbury's Homebase and you'll find at least two divorces brewing somewhere in between the latticed trellis-work and the self tapping screws. No assistant in B&Q could ever find himself wanting for material for the newest novel; and when there's a quiet moment, he can escape to the display sheds in the garden centre section to go and write it.

1 comment:

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