Sunday, January 20, 2013

A View from My Day Job

Do you have a day job? (other than writing, that is...)

Mine is an awesome one, and I do love it but sometimes, I ache for more time to write.

I happened on a book called Literary Miscellany: Everything You Wanted to Know About Literature by Alex Palmer, and it reminded me that I'm in good company.

In fact, no one's first day job was "getting published"! In fact, some famous authors worked day jobs that I'd consider less than conducive to writing. Just take a look:
  • T.S. Eliot was a clerk for Lloyds Bank of London for eight years. He is said to have composed The Waste Land while walking to work each day.
  • J.D. Salinger was entertainment director for a Swedish luxury liner. (He set one of his short stories, "Teddy," on a he put his day job to good use!)
  • Did you know John Steinbeck was a construction worker on Madison Square Garden? He was also a fruit picker, an apprentice painter, and an estate caretaker before quitting to become a full-time writer.
  • Stephen King worked as a janitor for a high school while waiting for his big publishing break. The high school setting served as inspiration for the opening locker room scene in Carrie.
And my favorite? (Perhaps, even, my dream...) Harper Lee worked as a reservation clerk for eight years, writing in her spare time, hoping to be published. One Christmas, a friend gave her a gift of one year's wages and encouraged her to "write whatever you please." In that year she wrote her first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird.

I count myself no where near this literary crowd, but I think back to my first, as in most important, "day job" of adulthood - mothering a bunch of boys. My first book? Yes, I was outnumbered...and those "lessons in the lively art of raising boys" got me a book contract!

And in my day job now? I get to read and talk about great works of literature! I get to write and encourage (Translation: sometimes prod!) students to write. We get to dialogue about the great themes of life and the people who express them.

Yes, I'm blessed to have a "day job" I love. And I'm reminded by Ephesians 5:15-16 to handle that time and experience wisely:

"Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, beause the days are evil."

And if you read on,  a couple of verses later, scripture says, "...always giving thanks to God the Father for everything..." That job is His provision for me. He's placed me there, with those I see each day, for reasons larger than I know.

Who knows where you'll go with the experiences He's given you?

Yet another author, Dr. Seuss, said it well:

"You're off to Great Places
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So ... get on your way!"


4 comments: said...

Oh yes Laura! My JUST WALKING book was written as I was changing teaching assignments.
And I, too, was blessed to have a day job I loved. thanks for this.

Jean Wise said...

Just tweeted this post, Laura. good words and very interesting to read.

Sometimes I think when I worked fulltime I got more done that working from my home now. AND I do know working from home, the boundaries blur on time - sometimes I lose tract of time and sometime the work continues long into the evening. So we all have to learn and like you said be thankful for what we have!

Karen said...

I also remember Davis Bunn writing and working a full time job to start, too. Good reminders that I can make time, if I really want to. Love the Suess quote!

Johnnie Alexander Donley said...

Laura, that was a fun list of jobs. One of my favorite poets, Wallace Stevens, worked for an insurance company. At least he was one of my favorite poets when I took lit classes. Those days seem so long ago, and I'm having trouble remembering any of his poems except 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. And that one's not one of my favorites.

Fun and thoughtful post.