Before They Were Famous

Cover of "Odd Jobs (Road to Writing)"

Cover of Odd Jobs (Road to Writing)

BEFORE THEY WERE FAMOUS: THE ODDEST ODD JOBS OF 10 LITERARY GREATS

Posted By Zachary Petit

by Alex Palmer

Plenty of acclaimed and successful writers began their careers working strange—and occasionally degrading—day jobs. But rather than being ground down by the work, many drew inspiration for stories and poems from even the dullest gigs. Here are 10 of the oddest odd jobs of famous authors—all of them reminders that creative fodder can be found in the most unexpected places.

#1. Kurt Vonnegut managed America’s first Saab dealership in Cape Cod during the late 1950s, a job he joked about in a 2004 essay: “I now believe my failure as a dealer so long ago explains what would otherwise remain a deep mystery: Why the Swedes have never given me a Nobel Prize for Literature.”

#2. John Steinbeck took on a range of odd occupations before earning enough to work as a full-time writer. Among his day jobs: apprentice painter, fruit picker, estate caretaker and Madison Square Garden construction worker.

#3. Stephen King served as a janitor for a high school while struggling to get his fiction published. His time wheeling the cart through the halls inspired him to write the opening girls’ locker room scene in Carrie, which would become his breakout novel.

#4. Harper Lee worked as a reservation clerk for Eastern Air Lines for more than eight years, writing stories in her spare time. This all changed when a friend offered her a Christmas gift of one year’s wages, with the note, “You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please.” She wrote the first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird within the year. READ MORE HERE.

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