What’s your future biography?

June 26, 2012 § 4 Comments

My friend and I preferred the title "shit technician," thank you very much.No one is born a writer. Each one of us comes into this world with the same raw materials, the same potential for greatness. But sometimes we delude ourselves into thinking that we weren’t born with “the gift” that, say, John Steinbeck or James Joyce had.

If that’s the way you feel, take a look at Mental Floss’s list of the early jobs of 24 famous writers. You’ll find that they had the same crappy jobs we all have had at one time or another. They were truck drivers, reservation clerks, cannery workers, car dealers. They were born poor. They were nothing special, and then suddenly they were very special.

Sometime in the future, Mental Floss might add me to the list. If they do, they’ll say my first job was shoveling dog shit at a kennel in one of the worst winters Ohio has ever seen. They’ll say I worked at McDonald’s and Arby’s and Perkins. That I later worked the counter at my family’s drycleaner, and as an inventory control clerk for United Dairy Farmers. That I was a librarian’s assistant and a bookstore clerk. Maybe they’ll mention that I was an editor for Writers Digest Books, and a marketing copywriter for a couple of software companies after that, and a freelance writer for a variety of clients. If I’m very, very lucky, all the readers of Mental Floss will be surprised and inspired that the guy who wrote that Big Book was once a humble kennel cleaner.

What will your future biography say?

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§ 4 Responses to What’s your future biography?

  • Lauren says:

    Wow, I can’t beat shoveling shit, but then it’s not a contest. I did, however, volunteer as a dog walker at a local no-kill shelter in my hometown, and had to deal with poop a lot. Papergirl, tutor, student worker (in an herbarium), lab tech, punching bag at a VLP, temp, temp, temp, temp, temp, temp, temp, credit investigator and then corporate credit slave for a large food distributor, temp, temp, clerical assistant in a registrar’s office. All of them, jobs I was lucky to have, honestly. But none of them really say anything about me.

    • It wasn’t really even shoveling. The poo was frozen to the ground, so we had to hook a hose to a giant hot water heater and melt the poop until it washed down the drain. And let me tell you, spraying water in freezing temperatures was no fun. We also had to shovel about a foot of snow out of the outdoor runs. It sucked, but the kennel was owned by Mike Resnick, a science fiction writer, and my buddy and I felt lucky to be in his orbit at all. And then we never saw him after the first day, and his horrid manager made our lives miserable. I was eventually fired for not being able to come in at the drop of a hat on a day I wasn’t scheduled and had other plans, and I was relieved not to have to–quite literally–put up with that shit anymore.

  • thelunarbee says:

    Oh wow. That is awful. Way worse than the daily screamings I was subjected to at the VLP.

  • George says:

    Well, the respectable ones included being a teacher, a lawyer, a technical translator, and a tech writer. Then there was the summer at the hamburger joint near my high school. Sales clerk in record, book, and clothing stores. (I really hate the public.) Night clerk in a small Viennese hotel (and I don’t even look like Charlotte Rampling). The one I held for the shortest time was driving a shuttle between buildings at the GM Test Site, which I had to leave after about a day and a half when they discovered that I couldn’t drive a stick. (I’ve since learned, so there may be career opportunities after tech writing.)

    My late wife shoveled shit on a horse farm for a while, but decided that marrying me was (marginally) preferable.

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