Hi, folks! Today’s post is a sponsored post by a client of mine called UK Writers Hub, who were kind enough to ask me to write a post on a subject of my choice. It seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to take a look at what some of our favourite authors did before they were famous.
Take Stephen King, who —like Kurt Cobain —worked as a janitor in a high school for a little while. King’s time in the job inspired Carrie, which became his first published novel. He also worked as a teacher for a while.
Then there’s Margaret Atwood, who worked at a coffee shop. Her ex-boyfriend used to stop by just to stare at her and the cash register refused to work properly. Not many people know that she’s also a pretty good cartoonist, although she never had to rely on it to make a living.
For her part, Sophie Kinsella was a financial journalist, and it’s her experience in the job that she brought to her Confessions of a Shopaholic series. Rainbow Rowell was a journalist for the Omaha-World Herald, and even Neil Gaiman worked as a journalist for some time.
But not all writers found jobs as journalists. For example, J. D. Salinger became entertainment director for a Swedish cruise line before his father, who worked in the ham and cheese business, sent him to Vienna. He even worked in a slaughterhouse in Poland for some time, but it didn’t last long because Salinger was a vegetarian.
Douglas Adams, the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Dirk Gently series, had a variety of jobs. He worked as a hotel security guard, a chicken shed cleaner, a barn builder, a hospital porter and a bodyguard throughout the 70s and was also a writer for Monty Python before his own career took off. Not a bad little CV!
Ken Kesey, the author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, took part in CIA tests that involved him being given LSD without his knowledge. Harper Lee, meanwhile, worked as a ticket agent for an airline before establishing her literary career with To Kill a Mockingbird.
George Orwell is perhaps the most interesting of all. As well as working as an officer for the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, an experience which influenced the creation of Burmese Days, he also drove an ambulance during the Spanish Civil War.
I was invited on a press trip to Latvia recently, and we were talking about writers and their careers while we were there. Latvia’s publishing industry is relatively small and so even bestselling authors find it difficult to earn an income from book sales alone. While I was there, I learned that Latvia’s poets were associated with the job of acting as a fire lookout during the Soviet era because so many of them chose to do it. It makes sense, though — the hours might be long, but there’s plenty of time for reflection during those long nights.
This all just goes to show that there’s hope out there for aspiring writers who aren’t sure how they’re ever going to make a living. Writers by their very nature are resourceful folks, and so if anyone can find a way to make a living with their brains and the way they use words, it’s writers.
As for myself, I’m lucky enough to make a living as a freelance writer, a career path that wasn’t really an option all those years ago. Sure, there were people like Hemingway and Graham Greene who managed to earn some money writing for newspapers, but even then it was more difficult without the internet.
These days, thanks to blogging and social media marketing, it’s easily possible for an aspiring writer to make their living from the craft. I prove that myself, whether I’m writing web content for piano tuning companies or whether I’m writing blogs for an essay writing service.
When I went to university to study creative writing, my friends and family thought I was making a big mistake. They thought that I’d never be able to get a job, or that if I did get a job, it wouldn’t have anything to do with my degree. I proved them wrong, and you could too. You just need to follow the footsteps of the authors in this list. Good luck!