Please welcome Alexandra Bullen, author of Wish, to the blog! Alexandra is in the midst of a blog tour to promote her debut novel, which I loved. (Check out my review). Alexandra has held a lot of jobs and I immediately noticed the list in her author bio on the back flap. I asked her to share with us how those many (and varied!) jobs have influenced her writing. I know that my students tend to think that authors sit down, write a book, get it published, become famous, and never work a regular job. They think you have to “do something big” to get inspiration for writing. Bullen proves that wrong in today’s post!
(Be sure to stay tuned at the end of the post for a chance to win a signed copy of Wish, courtesy of Scholastic!)
**********Alexandra Bullen, author of Wish**********
Part time jobs are a writer’s best friend. At least, this writer thinks so. Over the years I’ve done all kinds of different things, none more or less exciting than the jobs that everybody works in college, or over the summer, or when they’re trying to figure out what to do with their lives. I’ve worked in restaurants and bakeries, I’ve sold furniture,clothes and antiques, I’ve taught yoga, I’ve reviewed film scripts and answered phones.
Some days, I was good at it. Most days, I was a nightmare. But every day, I was a writer. Even during the months when I was working two or three jobs at a time—gardening during the day, waitressing at night, teaching yoga on the weekends—and not ever writing a word. I was learning things that I could never learn in front of my computer, or in a writing workshop.
Some of the things I’ve learned have helped me to be a better writer. Now, when I’m writing a story that takes place in the spring and I’m trying to set the scene, I know which flowers are blooming, which plants are seasonal and how they smell. I know what the earth feels like in April, how the leaves are buried under layers of frozen dirt and sometimes pieces of recycled trash, hidden in the compost.
Some of the things I’ve learned have helped me to be a better and more functional human being. As a waitress, I learned math. I’m not kidding. It was the first time in my life that I ever really needed it. I learned to multi-task, and prioritize—things that come in handy now when I’m trying to do things like pay my bills or organize my day. I also learned how not to be a jerk to your waitress; probably the most important life lesson of them all.
But the most valuable lesson I’ve learned working countless part-time jobs is the fact that not once did I ever wish any of them turned into something more. I never wanted to “move up.” I was always perfectly content knowing that even if I was burning my hand on the espresso machine six hours every day, I was a writer, too. And as long as I had something to go home to, some project to work on, some imagined deadline to meet, it didn’t matter how anybody else defined me.
Writer, human, mediocre waitress.
(I guess something’s always gotta give…)
Interested in reading Wish? Scholastic has generously donated a SIGNED copy of the book for one lucky winner! Leave a comment by Friday at midnight to be entered in the giveaway. The winner will be chosen at random and you will need to submit your address to me, to pass on to Scholastic. (All entrants must be older than 13!)