I was recently gabbing with new Simon & Fig author, Cindy Arora, about her background. I was in the midst of editing her debut novel, Heartbreak Cake, (coming this summer!) and was enamored by the authenticity of it. The book revolves around the tumultuous love life of a baker, and many of the pages are filled with glorious descriptions of sweet treats and the baking secrets that make them so special. I was practically drooling over my keyboard!
Cindy shared that she’d spent some time as a pastry chef’s assistant, along with a bevy of jobs including a newspaper journalist, waiter, bartender, and fromager (I’m guessing this has to do with making cheese?). I could tell that she felt a little apologetic for having had so many careers, but I was quick to point out that that’s what makes a writer so great!
Having a varied job history might make a potential employer nervous, but when it comes to writing, it’s all research! Work places make for terrific story settings since a vast majority of us can relate to the nine-to-five drudgery, the passionate professional, the dedicated small business owner, or the creative artist. And readers often love going behind the scenes in a glamorous industry like showbiz or seeing what life is really like behind the coffee shop counter.
But what about the paper-pushing author who bides her time with a boring day job and writes thrillers at night? Is she lacking in experience? Well, I’d bet she’s saving all that creative energy for building worlds full of adventure and mayhem when the workday ends. And in the meantime, that bland office job provides a nice paycheck so she doesn’t have to be a starving artist.
So no matter what work you do or how many positions dot your resume, find the good in it. See those careers as research and that day job as supporting your writing habit. And remember, you might be selling insurance today or making pizzas at night, but your profession? Your profession is: author. And it’s all research.