What a Way to Make a Living: Authors’ Other Jobs
Q: What was the worst job you ever had? What was your best job?
Jeph Jacques: Phone answerer at a newspaper.
Joni Rodgers: Worst: janitor in a porn movie theater. Best: writing, of course. If you love anything more than writing, you’re crazy to put up with the writing life.
Meg Medina: I sold ugly colonial furniture when I was in college. The best job is, of course, author.
Ayize Jama-Everett: Worst: Pizza maker in Santa Cruz. Who the hell orders a pizza with vegan cheese? I hung up on so many people until I realized that was a real thing. Best: Drug and alcohol counselor. We saved lives together.
Nisi Shawl: The absolute worst job I ever had was lifting tatties. For the non-Scots among us, that’s harvesting potatoes. Literal stoop labor. A digger went through the field upending row on row of dead potato plants; we women (all women) scrabbled in the cold mud and tossed the potatoes in bushel baskets wedged between our feet. No standing upright for hours at a time. The third day I couldn’t walk down the stairs to catch a ride to the work site. That was it. I was in too much pain to show up and formally quit. Best job? Probably teaching writing to 5th- and 6th-graders at a week-long multidisciplinary workshop called Water World. I did that nine years in a row. Teaching is so fun! It’s basically performance art–you get to be a rock star all day!
Charlie Jane Anders: Worst job was probably monkey-frightener. Or receptionist for a paranoid fund manager. Best was editing io9.
Alyssa Cole: Worst? Hostess at a chain restaurant where the customer is always right. The best? Working as a server at a prestigious institute. Good pay, great food, and the people watching was incredible.
Patrick Phillips: I once mopped floors in a bakery and spent several days chiseling the hardened chocolate off the floor. Finally the ex-marine baker showed me how to flood the entire bakery with an inch of water, go outside, smoke a cigarette, then open the scupper plug and watch it all float down the drain. That was one of the best–probably because I only lasted a month. I remember he used to pay me with a big wad of $1 bills, and I felt like a bigshot peeling them off in front of my friends. The worst was a job writing proposals for a health care company whose sole client was the Pentagon. It was so boring that I nearly feel asleep just now, writing that sentence.
Sara Quiroz: Worst was at Conference Services in college. The best was in Correctional Services at NYPL.