Man, don’t I know it. Everything I do these days is an attempt to put food on the table without going back to soul-eating work for a company I don’t give a rat’s ass about. Since I started writing I’ve done the following day jobs: bartender, social worker, martial arts coach, bookstore clerk, computer trainer, high school teacher, web designer, policy analyst, communications officer, communications coordinator, communications manager, magazine editor, executive director, adjunct professor, marketing specialist, public relations manager, marketing manager, etc. etc. etc. Now I am trying to run my own company and it’s sort of slightly better for a lot less money. Meh, I’m calling it a win.
In a diary entry dated 1911, Kafka writes that having a day job “is a horrible double life from which there is probably no escape but insanity.” Academia and publishing offer literature-adjacent careers to a small number of writers (who must find time for their own work even within these literary industries), and the rest of us are left to eke out our livelihoods in nontraditional ways, balancing odd hours and demanding labor with creative work (not to mention regular lives of meals, children, exercise, even—dare I say—leisure?).
I asked seven writers about their day jobs and how they manage to produce work in their off hours without losing their minds.