Monday, March 19, 2007

What's My Line?



You know who we are. We're writers.


Well, at least we're writers at the moment. We weren't always writers and five years from now some of us (me) just might be standing behind a counter somewhere asking, "Would you like fries with that?"

(Yes, I'm in the end run with the book.) (Yes, I'm struggling.) (And yes, I'm considering throwing myself under an 18-wheeler.)

Maybe you were a pirate before you settled down and became a neurosurgeon. Maybe you are a minister, a goalie, a seat-filler for awards shows.

Before I sold my first book I made it my business to be shamelessly underemployed. Kind of like saving myself for the right career . . .

I did, however, earn money doing the following:
  1. I worked the stationery counter at Macy's Queens
  2. I answered phones for Skinner Macaroni in Omaha
  3. I was a clerk in a psychiatric hospital in Omaha
  4. I spent one infamous morning frying Filet O'Fish sandwiches at McDonald's in Lakewood, NJ in spring 1970 until Goldisox rescued me
  5. I segued from frying fish sandwiches to dusting buttons at W. T. Grant's, also in Lakewood
  6. I worked freelance as a stenotype note reader then taught the skill in Queens during the winter of 1970-1971 while Goldisox was overseas. The woman I worked for was known as The Whore of Wall Street.
  7. I typed envelopes for a tyrant on Long Island
  8. I learned data entry then computer programming in the mid-1970s at a small company on LI
  9. I handled promotion (part time) for a brilliant fiber artist (also on Long Island) while I prayed one day I'd have someone to handle promotion for me (actually I sold my first book right after I quit working for her)
  10. I worked one day for Dime Savings Bank. I would rather fry fish sandwiches.

How about you? What have you done to earn a buck?

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11 Comments:

Blogger loribird said...

No, step away from the 18-wheelers! It will be okay...
I've held a variety of jobs - since you asked: Loads of restaurant work, including busser, dishwasher, waitress (that didn't last long - too clutzy) and line cook (that's right, give the clumsy girl a big knife...); art class model (nude, tastefully); pottery assistant; baker (bread); self-employed seamstress; coffee-shop barrista; house painter with light construction work; various retail, including in a bookstore, a hemp-clothing shop, a natural-foods store, and a consignment shop; and a seamstress in an Alaskan commercial-fishing-goods shop. (whew! maybe I am glad to be a stay-at-home mom now!)

3:50 PM  
Blogger Fran Baker said...

I've written my whole life and have my box to prove it. (My mom made each of us kids a box filled with her favorite and/or significant things from that particular kid.) That said, I've also:

Worked at Montgomery Wards during my junior and senior years in high school; worked on Project Thailand for the Peace Corps at the University of Missouri-Columbia; taught tennis at 75 cents an hour in a gym class in college; worked as a legal secretary; worked as a court reporter; worked as a substitute teacher (no patience to do it full-time).

And wrote, wrote, wrote ...

4:42 PM  
Blogger Cindi Myers said...

Like Fran, I've always written, but to keep money in the bank, I've also worked 3 weeks at McDonald's (never again.)
Worked my way through high school as a grocery story cashier.
Small-town newspaper reporter
Only female employee of an all-gay travel agency
Tour guide
Doctor's office receptionist
Clerk in a boutique
Medical clinic manager

6:03 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

I joined the Marine Corps (reserve) out of high school, worked as a custodian for a few months, worked as an armed security officer for 8 years at a nuclear power plant, did some work as a proofreader, worked as a receptionist/typist for a small town newspaper (covered a town meeting and did the story on it), and currently I am watching two 3 year olds during the day. I haven't yet been published but maybe someday. RIght now I'm toying with taking a course on medical transcription because I will be able to work from home. I didn't mention I've also worked off and on for my Dad making signs and sold a toad when I was a kid for 50 cents to someone for their garden!!

6:50 PM  
Blogger dobarah said...

Step away from the curb...you are not alone in this feeling. I have homework due by midnight, and grades due for my students at 10 AM tomorrow. I should finish correcting first...

Anyway, I have earned $ by running an oil route, decorating cakes (still do), installing flooring (all types...even though I am only 5'2" and maybe 105 pounds) and ceramic tile, being a secretary for the flooring store, working in a stationary store/post office, Sears bra department...that was a stretch!...restaurant manager, and now I"m a high school math teacher. Jack of all trades, master of few?

9:07 PM  
Blogger LauraP said...

This too shall pass...and yeah, add me to the 'written all my life' club. To pay the bills I've worked various retail and food industry jobs, run a handmade soap business, cleaned houses, proofread, edited, wrote freelance articles, and was a staff reporter, then editor, at a small town newspaper. I've also been a stay-at-home mom, a part-time farmer, and the business manager of a small software company.

10:29 PM  
Blogger kshotz said...

Golly, let's see.....

Babysitter (didn't we all???), manned the local Dairy Queen summer after 8th grade, detassled corn (yes, I'm in Iowa), dietary aide and cook at a nursing home during high school/college, assistant activities director at a second nursing home during college (two, two, two jobs at once!), then got married and started seminary during which I worked at the one-hour photo at the mall. After ordination I served the same church for nearly 13 yrs. I've been on leave the past 16 months during which I substituted for the schools (hate those 6 am wake up calls!)while finishing photography school. I've been doing some freelance photography and writing for the newspaper and may take over as managing editor for our local monthly magazine soon. Oh yeah, in there I also worked a week for a friend as a coffee barista and a few weeks at the LYS until work for the paper picked up and I had to give it up.

Did I mention I'm only 41?? I have a lot more years for more adventures ahead of me!!

10:31 PM  
Blogger Cindi Myers said...

I'm amazed how many of us worked for small town papers.

11:10 AM  
Blogger georg said...

Liz- I am working as a medical transcriptionist. It's hard work for crap pay. You are welcome to check out my humor here http://mtgrammar.powerblogs.com/

Other things I have done include work as a security dispatch, chaffeur, lifeguard, swimming instructor (as a boy scout no less), copyeditor/page designer Living section of the paper, technical writer, resume editor/desktop publishing, bartender, deli counter/coffee shop/donut shop, Burger King, calligrapher, computer instruction, and the occasional sewing commission. Probably a few other things as well. I'm a published poet, but never finished a novel.

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Cathy said...

If you want bad, I can do bad. Let's see--dishwasher, janitor, busboy, some of which over lapped with other jobs, including working 10 years in malls (picture it--10 years of listening to holiday music every day, over and over until you can name the song that will be on next, in a mall crowded with people trying to save a buck on the Christmas/Hannuka/Kwanza gifts, and still get them in a timely manner.....EEEEEK! I still don't like Christmas music, and it takes a lot to drag me into a mall.) including information desks (total of 7 years, where we also rented strollers, sold lottery tickets and mall gift certificates, did faxing, etc. etc.), carousel operator (yes, a mall in southern CA used to have a carousel in the food court--I've heard that it closed), and retail (best job I ever had--selling candles in a mall, working for a great boss, and having fun in a good smelling store). I've also done wholesale (for the candle store supplier after he was forced to close) and "shelter technician" at my local animal shelter (glorified pooper-scooper). Now, I'm a stay-at-home mom.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Amy Lane said...

At the moment I'm on my 15th year teaching high school. Damn, I've got to find an agent....

8:31 PM  

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