Even history’s most revered writers had to do something to hold body and soul together before they hit it big. No surprise that these creative minds often toiled in something a little more offbeat than the usual food service or babysitting gigs.
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At The Huffington Post, author and musician Paul Anthony Jones recently compiled a list of 20 day jobs held by famous authors before they entered the pantheon of literature. Among the odder gigs:
1. Jack London, Oyster Pirate
Sadly, the author of The Call of the Wild didn’t wear a patch on his eye or a parrot on his shoulder during his tenure as a “self-styled oyster pirate” in San Francisco. He was basically just a thief, stealing from oyster farms and selling his ill-gotten gains in local markets.
Similar (legitimate) job, today: Fisherman, $50,543 median annual salary
2. J.D. Salinger, Luxury Cruise Activities Director
How do you cure a broken heart? If you’re J.D. Salinger, you rebound from a failed relationship (with Oona O’Neill, soon to be Charlie Chaplin’s wife) by signing on as activities director on a Caribbean cruise, and write a short story that later becomes the basis for The Catcher in the Rye.
Similar job, today: Cruise Director, $61,801 median annual salary
3. Kurt Vonnegut, Car Dealer
By the time the author of Slaughterhouse-Five earned enough from his writing to devote himself to it full-time, he’d already done stints as a soldier, journalist, PR associate, and college professor. But perhaps his most offbeat job was car salesman. In 1957, he ran his own Saab dealership on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Later, he described the experience: “It and I went out of business 33 years ago. The Saab then as now was a Swedish car, and 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.”
Similar job, today: Sales Consultant, Cars, $36,271 median annual salary
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