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Day Job?

by Beth Shriver

I’ve always admired writers who also have another job as well as their writing. I was a social worker before my daughter was born and started writing soon after, but now that my youngest is off to college I’ve ventured back into the work force. I’m still learning how to balance the two.

The first thing I thought of was that I’d have to do some serious time management to get everything done that I do now plus working, and get my book, Grace Given, sent to Grace Givenmy publisher on time. Getting my family used to the idea that I wouldn’t be as available would be the biggest undertaking, and having others do some of the tasks that I’ve always done. In having less time for writing I’d be spending less time with my imaginary friends, meaning my characters of course, along with a number of activities and groups I belong to. It’s all about prioritizing.

I did a little research about authors who didn’t give up their day jobs, or at least not right away after they were published. Some of these might surprise you.

• Michael Blake, author of Dances with Wolves, had just been fired from his job as a dishwasher in a Chinese restaurant when Kevin Costner called him to ask if he would be interested in writing a screen play of his book.
• Stephen King was a high school history teacher and used to write in the furnace room closet on breaks.
• Both C.S. Lewis and Tolkien served in WWI and then taught at Universities
• John Grisham was a lawyer and member of the State Legislature of Mississippi
• Jack London was an oyster pirate and then a gold prospector.
• Nicholas Sparks applied at Law school but was not accepted, so he tried real estate appraisals, waiting tables, selling dental products and starting a manufacturing business
• J.K. Rowling got her postgraduate degree and taught in Scotland. She had a baby and then was divorced. She completed her first novel while on welfare
• Francine Rivers wrote obituaries for the town paper
• Zane Gray was rejected for years shortly after he was finally published he quit his job as a dentist to write full time.
• William Faulkner was a post master

This group of writers is a tough comparison but are authors I was curious about. I know many writers manage both very well. They give inspiration and the encouragement to take the leap!

Beth Shriver
Beth Shriver wrote her first book in 2002 and a year later it was published. She received a degree in social work and psychology from the University of Nebraska. Beth worked as a caseworker for Boulder County Department of Social Services before starting a family. Beth and her husband, two children, along with two cats and a beagle live in Texas after moving from their first home in Colorado. She freelances for the local papers in her area and writes columns, devotionals for magazines, and novels in a variety of genres in both fiction and nonfiction. Represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Literary Agency.

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5 Responses to Day Job?

  1. Ron Estrada says:

    It does take planning and some understanding from the family. I’m an engineer and work a regular 40 hour week, then come home and work 10 more hours for the family company–all online marketing and advertising. After that I do my writing. But if you love it, it’s not like additional work. I’d rather spend an hour or two each evening writing than watching TV. Yes, there are days when I’d rather be a vegetable. You need to take those days every now and then. But whenever I’ve tried to give up writing permanently, it felt like a part of me had been cut off. I’ll always write, even when I’m supposed to be “retired.”

  2. Beth says:

    Ron, I agree, if we don’t get in our writing time it is like a piece of us is missing. You described it perfectly!

  3. As the wife of a surgeon who has always supported my habits: founder and director of a pregnancy ministry first located in our home, president of our state right to life organization for fifteen years, and now published author, I say I am a well-kept woman. Joe’s unfailing support has allowed me to accoomplish my dreams. Oak Tara published my first book, His Brother’s Wife. in October, 2012. Together we brought up five children and a foster daughter–all now contributing adults.
    I am in awe at those who balance a job and writing–God bless.
    I told a friend yesterday: a day without writing is a day without sunshine.

  4. Telena Tanara Contreras says:

    That’s both an interesting and encouraging list you’ve compiled there Beth. It’s good to know that the common thread among each of these writer’s was their committment to pursue writing despite their circumstances.

  5. Beth says:

    Congrats Charlotte! The door has opened in your writing career!!

    Telena, I appreciated your blog, remembering when I started writing and looking for those precious moments to write. The list of authors inspired me to know it isn’t easy but to keep writing!