Writers and their day jobs.
Hans Christian Andersen worked in a tobacco factory at age eleven.
Jack London worked in a cannery at age thirteen.
Charles Dickens pasted labels on bottles of shoe polish.
Carl Sandburg was a firefighter, a traveling salesman, and secretary to the mayor of Milwaukee.
E.B. White sold roach powder and played piano.
Zane Grey was a dentist.
William Carlos Williams was a doctor.
Wallace Stevens was a lawyer for an insurance company.
Mona Simpson worked as an ice cream scooper, a waitress, a stock clerk, a Christmas present wrapper, a neurophysiology's lab assistant, a movie theater usher, an acupuncturist’s assistant, and an editor.
Alice Munro picked tobacco while a university student.
Carson McCullers put in time as a waitress and played piano for a dance class.
Colette supported herself by performing in a music hall, writing theater reviews, and briefly, running a beauty salon.
Christopher Marlowe moonlighted as a counterespionage agent investigating English Catholics abroad.
Erich Maria Remarque sold tombstones and played the organ in an insane asylum
Raymond Carver’s day job was a night job: he worked as a janitor.
Milan Kundera worked as a laborer and jazz musician.
Daniel Defoe was a spy and spin doctor for Tories and the Whigs.
William Burroughs was an anthropologist and private investigator.
Isaac Asimov compiled encyclopedias and taught chemistry.
Christopher Isherwood served as secretary to a violinist.
T.S. Elliot was a banker.
Philip Larkin was a librarian.
Russel Banks was a plumber.
Mark Jacobson was a cabdriver.
Richard Farina was a songwriter.
May Sarton worked during the war years for the Office of War Information, where she wrote documentary film scripts.
Walt Whitman was a typesetter, a journalist, an itinerant schoolteacher, and a newspaper editor.
Herman Melville was a customs inspector for the New York Harbor Authority.
Anthony Trollope was a civil servant for the postal authority and is credited with inventing the letter box.
William Faulkner served a postmaster for the University of Mississippi post office.
Hart Crane was a factory worker in Cleveland.
Alex Haley spent twenty years in the U.S. Coast Guard.
Maya Angelou worked as a cook and managed a restaurant.
E.L. Doctorow, Mary McCarthy, Toni Morrison, William Styron, Gore Vidal, Lisa Alther, John Ashbery, Rick Moody, Amy Clampitt and Dorothy Parker all worked in publishing.