Writing, Other Jobs, & Russell Baker: Day 18 of Project 365

Russell Baker

“The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn’t require any.”
– Russell Baker

Today is my third day at a minimum wage job. As far as of these jobs go, I got really lucky. The staff is nice, the job is a great cross between busy and quiet, and best of all, I can to smell like desserts all day.

You wouldn’t think that last one is such a big deal until you work at a Chinese restaurant and all your clothes between to smell like old oil and chicken.

Naturally, my absolute need to be a published writer is on my mind as a motivation for working. It’s my first answer when people ask me about my dream job, or any personal goals (except perhaps to raise children with a brilliant sense of humor).

Working here after 4 years of college is confusing to me, my parents … And probably many other people. So I find solace in the knowledge that we all find our own paths to success.

I also find solace in knowing that most writers start out this way, no matter how brilliant their work is eventually considered. Except perhaps for those aristocratic backgrounds who rarely seek employment of any sort. Let’s consider those the exception.

I think of writing and getting a consistently paid job as two full jobs, but I know for a fact a lot of people do not think of writing as “real work”. But that’s all right. I write to make myself and my readers grow as people, and so it doesn’t hurt (too much) when I hear that opinion from friends and family.

Overall, I found Baker’s words really appealed to my darker writing persona, but I do not give that side of me much leeway to convince me to dwell on the unfortunates in life.

Do you agree with Baker? Do you or writers you know mostly write as a secret/side activity while they fulfill society’s expectations by getting a “real job”?

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2 thoughts on “Writing, Other Jobs, & Russell Baker: Day 18 of Project 365

  1. I think Baker does not believe a word of this self deprecating sentence. He knows the opposite is true as do all artists from dance to sculpture to music and so on. It’s a real tongue in check statement. I enter every poetry contest out there. They usually pick several hundred “winners”and publish an anthology a copy of which costs you $50 bucks. Then you automatically get asked to contribute for the next publication and naturally you’ll buy another book. Is it a scam? A $ racket? But I can say I have been published in a dozen anthologies. Builds resume. You don’t get paid but you can write for local newsletters from church to chamber of commerce. I once started letters to editor submissions to one of those free at the grocery store town newspapers and they gave me a weekly column for 2 years. No pay but used that platform to run for city council and got 26% of vote. Build your resume even if you just redesign menus for restaurants.

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