As you may know, my day job is in web design, through my company, Istomedia. I often daydream about working as a full-time author, but that may have to wait until I’m a pensioner, it seems. Still, reading posts like this, from Unplag.com, anti-plagiarism online tools, make me realize just how lucky I am!
You see, it turns out that many big-name writers started from unbelievably weird and underpaid jobs not related to their writing careers at all.
Was inspired to write “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” after working as a janitor in a mental hospital and volunteering for a CIA study (Project MKULTRA) when studying. He and other students participating in the experiment were given LSD or mescaline and observed so researchers could see how they reacted while on psychedelic drugs. After that, Kesey decided to share his wretched experience.
Was working as a car dealer for Saab (a Swedish car manufacturer). He combined managing the dealership with teaching – by that time he had already had two daughters and jumped at any chance to earn a living.
Worked as an entertainment director on the H.M.S Kungsholm (a Swedish Cruise liner). He was organizing activities for tourists so they wouldn’t get bored while traveling. Can you imagine Salinger being paired as a dance partner to lonely ladies? Well, that’s what he did.
Do you know what an “oyster pirate” is? That is a person who steals and resells oysters, and that is what Jack London was. Oysters from the West Coast used to be in high demand, and some people were willing to do anything to get them. Even in his novels London references oyster pirates a few times.
This author had an unbelievable amount of occupations before he got a job as a writer. Imagine Palahniuk as a dishwasher, movie projectionist, bicycle messenger, diesel mechanic, or assembly line mechanic for Freightliner. He had all those jobs before becoming a fulltime writer.
These are just a few of the jobs mentioned in Unplag.com, so be sure to check out the original post for even more incredible jobs held by famous authors and find out what authors like Scott Fitzgerald or Stephen King did for a living before becoming famous!
I about spit out my coffee at oyster pirate. I love that that is a thing.
I know, right? 😀
Reblogged this on Author P.S. Bartlett.
I think Ken Kesey’s job tops them all! No wonder he had amazing insight into a mental institution and the craziness! Great post Nicholas D:
So glad you enjoyed it! 🙂
Fascinating stuff! Wow, Ken Kesey’s story is unbelievable! 🙂
I know, right? 😀
Really interesting piece, Nicholas. Understandable though, as a person has to eat and feed their family. 🙂
Oh, absolutely. It still came to me as a shock when I realized, as a teenager, that authors are just people… 😀
Wow. Looking at Cuckoo’s Nest in a different way now. I just assumed it came from a patient’s POV. Interesting. I have a friend who grew up in Maine with Stephen King. She has stories of the family…strange ones.
If you ever feel like sharing… 🙂
I’m sworn to secrecy. lol. But some day… He scares me a little…so maybe not.
Salinger is my favourite. Trust Jack London to have such a cool job as oyster pirate. I’ve been in finance, worked in diamonds, waitressed and bartended, did medical trials, tutored and worked as a translator. Sadly no oyster pirating for me!
No need – you’ve already done everything else, it seems! 😀
Yeah but having ‘Oyster Pirate’ on my resume would be pretty damn cool 😉
Lol – the epitome of cool 😀
Before getting out of college I was a landscaper, painter and factory worker. After i was a sales rep, marketing manager, general manager, consultant, and supply chain exec.
Wow, you’ve certainly been busy, career-wise!
Very interesting. Just so you have it when I become famous: I was a McDonald’s swing manager, a waitress, almost a call girl (long story), a farmer, a dressage instructor, a certified nursing assistant, a retail record store clerk, an insurance salesperson, an L.P.N. and an R.N.(A.C.L.S., S.A.N.E., and chemotherapy and Forensics certified.) before I became a writer.
Lol – writing it down for that day! 😀
The almost-a-call-girl story definitely sounds worth sharing. A blog post, perhaps? 😀
It’s in some old novel I started in word a long time ago and never got back to. Maybe some day. But it DID involve a Greek Adonis named Nikatas Theophilous KouKouvas with a penchant for pretty women, guns and drugs.
Lol – nothing less than I would expect, with a name like that 😀
Interesting. I didn’t know that about Ken Kesey. No wonder the book was so intense. And Stephen King’s job as a janitor at a high school – that would make me consider writing something like Carrie too.
Lol – absolutely! 😀
Fascinating. I suppose everyone has to start somewhere. 🙂
Makes you look twice at that janitor, doesn’t it? 🙂
I.n.d.e.e.d. Same as you can’t tell a book by it’s cover. 😀 😀 The devil made me say this. 😛
Lol – I bet 😀
Very interesting to see what humble beginnings some writers had.
Just goes to show you: everyone has the seeds of greatness in them
The Stephen King one was rather surprising. Can barely imagine what it would have been like to be a student when him as a janitor.
You probably wouldn’t look at him twice 🙂
As to what *he* was like as a kid…
Tempted to look that up. I remember being told that a person with a bland, ‘normal’ childhood would make a terrible author. Not sure about the reasoning behind that statement.
I remember reading that King had witnessed the tragic death of a childhood friend; the boy had been hit by a train. He later claimed to have forgotten all about it, and that he found about about the death many years later. Some believe that trauma is the basis for some of his most troubling stories.
Sounds like ‘Stand By Me’ actually. I think that’s the one with the boys that go in search of a dead body. Might not be the name of the book though.
That’s the one 🙂
Everyone has to start somewhere. I doubt there are many who were ever ‘just’ writers, unless they were from wealthy backgrounds that is. Still, it is interesting to imagine them in their normal jobs, using some of that experience later, in their books.
Best wishes, Pete.
Very true! I remember how shocked I was when, as a young teenager, I read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and discovered that Douglas Adams had held a host of odd jobs, including bouncer.
Very cool! There’s hope for us yet. 😀
Lol – especially you 😉
Btw I checked out Istomedia. Impressive! Do you have a showcase of some sites you did?
Thanks! Sure, if you go to the experience page (https://www.istomediahost.gr/english/experience1.asp), you’ll see some sites we’ve developed 🙂
(I really need to update that page, mind you)
Thanks! Will check it out.
Geneticist, then violin teacher. Authors, come forward about your dayjobs pls? This is fun!
Nice! You sound kinda like Sherlock 😀