How a starving writer can take on a day job he’ll love

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    I discovered writing or found out what exactly I wanted to do with the rest of my life like some folks do—in college.

    While I attended college in ’91, I worked alot of jobs that just paid minimum wage, and alot of the times these minimum wage-paying jobs interfered with my writing—I couldn’t just take a break to go write something down. I wanted writing to come first.

    In the summer of ’97, with my manual typewriter and all, I winged a move down to Charleston, SC, where I had hoped I’d land a job writing the “The Post and Courier”, Charleston’s newspaper.

    After no success, I returned to my home town, New Castle, PA, where, after my parents harassed me enough, I agreed to take a job building mini storage units.

    We were hired to build a row of mini storage unit in Hartford, CT. We were supposed to work for four days, and then be off for three; the key words here are “supposed to”.

    Well, once our crew arrived at the mini storage site, we were informed that we would not be returning home until the row of mini storages was complete. We were in Hartford for eleven long days.

    So, before I went on the next mini storage job, whose location I didn’t know of, I quit, writing a nice little note to my boss, which really put me on the hot seat with my parents.

    There was no way my parents were going to let me write in the attic without working. My parents’ home would become a hostile territory.

    Before life living in the attic of my parents’ home got too out of hand, I came up with a solution as to how I could continue to write “and” support myself as a writer—I would start my own business.

    Starting my own business would put me in control, once again, of my writing; I could schedule work around the writing.

    So, I started the only business I could think of, the only thing I knew I could do, the only thing I thought I had real experience with—scrubbing kitchen floors.

    Of course, my mother didn’t think it would work. Why would a woman, my mother thought, hire a man to scrub her kitchen floor?

    I paid no attention to her. I put a classified ad in the local paper for scrubbing kitchen floors.

    It felt like eternity, two weeks, until some had called, but they did. So, I got a bucket, rags, cleaning solution, caught the city bus—I had no fancy, professionally-looking white cleaning cargo van—and took it to my first cleaning job.

    So, there I was, standing in blue jeans and a white T-shirt, in the kitchen of my first client, a young, slim, fairly good-looking woman who wanted more than just her kitchen floor scrubbed—she wanted it stripped first.

    So, there I was, on all fours, laboring, stripping this woman’s kitchen floor.

    The next thing I knew—she had been watching me the whole time—she asked me to stop.

    I did.

    “Come here,” she said.

    She strolled over to the counter, closing the blinds above the sink.

    “Ma’am”, I asked her, “is everything okay?”

    “Forget about the floor,” she said.

    She bent over, resting her elbows on the counter. “I want you to flip up my dress.”

    “But, ma’am,” I said.

    “Would you please just come over here and flip up my dress?”

    I went over to her. I pulled her dress up over her back, discovering that underneath the dress she was not wearing panties, revealing the most beautiful pieces I had ever seen.

    The next thing I knew she and I were having sex, not just average sex, good sex, great sex, in every position manageable. There is one thing to christen every room—we christened everything “in” the room—and when she and I were through—she came twice—exhausted but exalted, wet with sweat, gasping, I asked her, “What about the floor?”

    “Forget about the floor. I wanted you to make love to me.”

    She went to her purse, took out two brand-new one hundred-dollar bills and stuffed them down into the front pocket of my blue jeans, and then she said, “I’d like you to come and scrub my floor once a week, and before you go, my neighbor wants to see you. She has some windows she wants you to wash.”

    Then she grabbed my ass.

    Well, that, of course, is not exactly how things went down. That was just a pure product of my wild and vivid imagination. I didn’t become the neighborhood gigolo, making two hundred dollars a crack. She was an older woman, nice enough. I did strip and re-wax her kitchen floor, and she did recommend me to her neighbor across the street to do her windows.

    I know that starting a business can be a terrifying, even crazy, but if you are a writer, the truth is you’re already an entrepreneur; writers “are” entrepreneurs.

    I took a lot of courage to start my own business, but I guess when you care that much about something like I had with writing, you won’t even think twice about doing whatever it takes to defend it. You’ll fight—till the death!

    I carefully built the cleaning business up, which turned into a business of washing walls, which paid the bills, which kept the parents off my ass.

    My goal was, however—and this is the crazy part—“not” to turn the business into an employee-based business. I wanted to keep the business small, manageable, so that when I did eventually land a legit publishing contract, I could walk away from the cleaning business, easily, without laying anybody off.

    So, if you’re a starving writer, but would like to put your passion for writing first and your “day job” last, the answer might just be to start your own business. It worked for me.

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