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A Loaf of Bread, A Jug of Urine and Thou – Jeff Baker

Writers have day jobs. It’s a plain fact of economics, writing doesn’t pay that much unless the writer is very lucky. We supplant our creative careers with a nine-to-five (or six to three, or some such.)

A lot of writers have been teachers. Stephen King taught high school English. Jeffrey Marks juggles teaching and editing, the British ghost story writer M. R. James was a Provost of King’s College, Cambridge and Eaton. Some writers, like Steve Berman, have worked in publishing. And others, like me, have jobs that have nothing to do with writing at all.

For the last 25 years or so I have worked as some form of delivery driver, delivering everything from produce to furniture to liquor to medical samples (such as blood draws and bottles of urine.) The advantage of such a job (besides a paycheck) is seeing places I would never have seen. And it’s come in handy. I’ve used the small Kansas towns as settings in stories I’ve written; century-old town halls, golden wheat fields, seemingly endless skies all have worked their way into my fiction.

And I’ve heard offhand comments from customers and others that caused me to (discreetly) write down what I just heard for use later. I’ve written a lot of stories that would not have existed were it not for my day job. I worked for five years out of a downtown, multi-story warehouse with its construction date “1915” (I think) proudly carved onto the top, just over the bricks. Perfect location for all kinds of stories, (I have a couple of them written down!).

I’ve been exposed to people of all kinds: the co-worker 90 miles away who gave me a loaf of homemade bread for Christmas; the kid who found (to his surprise) that he was Gordon Parks’ grandnephew; the total jerk of a building manager who was manipulating his clueless boss and always got in my way. (I later cast them as murderer and victim in an unpublished mystery novella.) And I’ve been in plenty of bars, gay and straight. All on the job.

So, myself, I would not have traded the day jobs for anything. Not even to be like Irish author Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett who had time to write and didn’t need the day job; he was the 18th Baron Dunsany, and wrote as “Lord Dunsany.” Me, I work, write and grab moments to write when I can. Juggling job and writing is a necessary writing skill, and I would recommend time management as one of the most essential skills for a writer.

Even after the writer arrives at those wonderful words in their ongoing bio: “Quit his job to write full-time.”


Jeff Baker writes about reading and writing sci fi, fantasy and horror and other sundry matters on or around (and occasionally after) the thirteenth of each month. When he’s not at his day job he’s at home with his husband Darryl, probably writing or posting something on his blog or his Facebook page He and Darryl add that the bread was wonderful.


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