G'day folks,

ever wondered what the great writers did for a crust before they became famous? Plenty of acclaimed and successful writers began their careers working strange—and occasionally degrading—day jobs. But rather than being ground down by the work, many drew inspiration for stories and poems from even the dullest gigs. Here are 10 of the oddest odd jobs of famous authors—all of them reminders that creative fodder can be found in the most unexpected places. Check these ...

#1. Kurt Vonnegut managed America’s first Saab dealership in Cape Cod during the late 1950s, a job he joked about in a 2004 essay: “I now believe my failure as a dealer so long ago explains what would otherwise remain a deep mystery: Why the Swedes have never given me a Nobel Prize for Literature.”

#2. John Steinbeck took on a range of odd occupations before earning enough to work as a full-time writer. Among his day jobs: apprentice painter, fruit picker, estate caretaker and Madison Square Garden construction worker.

#3. Stephen King served as a janitor for a high school while struggling to get his fiction published. His time wheeling the cart through the halls inspired him to write the opening girls’ locker room scene in Carrie, which would become his breakout novel.

#4. Harper Lee worked as a reservation clerk for Eastern Air Lines for more than eight years, writing stories in her spare time. This all changed when a friend offered her a Christmas gift of one year’s wages, with the note, “You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please.” She wrote the first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird within the year.

#5. J.D. Salinger mentioned in a rare interview in 1953 that he had served as entertainment director on the H.M.S. Kungsholm, a Swedish luxury liner. He drew on the experience for his short story “Teddy,” which takes place on a liner.

#6. Before joining the likes of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs worked as an exterminator in Chicago. It served as a handy metaphor years later in his novel Exterminator!

#7. Richard Wright worked as a letter sorter in a post office on the south side of Chicago from 1927 to 1930, while he wrote a number of short stories and poems that were published in literary journals.

#8. Before his writing career took off, William Faulkner also worked for the Postal Service, as postmaster at the University of Mississippi. In his resignation note, he neatly summarized the struggle of art and commerce faced by many authors: “As long as I live under the capitalist system I expect to have my life influenced by the demands of moneyed people. But I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp. This, sir, is my resignation.”

#9. T.S. Eliot worked as a banker, serving as a clerk for Lloyds Bank of London for eight years. The job must have been a bummer—he composed passages of The Waste Land while walking to work each day.

#10. Sometimes, an odd job can actually lead to opportunity. Poet Vachel Lindsay was interrupted as he dined at a hotel restaurant in Washington, D.C., by a busboy who handed him some sheets of poetry. At first irritated by the young man, Lindsay was quickly impressed by the writing. When he asked, “Who wrote this?” the busboy replied, “I did.” Langston Hughes was about to get his big break.

Clancy's comment: Mm ... what did you do before you became famous?

I'm ...

Think about this!

30 November 2013 - RARE PHOTOGRAPHS

G'day guys,
Now, get ready. Here are some very rare and unusual photographs taken by brilliant photographers who happened to be at the right spot on the right day.

Clancy's comment: Brilliant, eh?

I'm ...

Think about this!




Photo Ian Willms, New York Times

Born: July 10, 1931 (age 82), Wingham, Ontario, Canada

Nationality: Canadian

Awards: Man Booker International Prize, Nobel Prize in Literature

Spouse: Gerald Fremlin (m. 1976–2013), James Munro (m. 1951–1972)

G'day folks,
An 82 year-old Canadian  woman has won the Nobel Prize for Literature - Alice Munro. Here is some information about her, courtesy of Susan Wyndham.

The first story in Alice Munro's 2009 collection Too Much Happiness opens with a woman catching three buses to visit her husband in ''the facility''. He is in prison, it emerges, for murdering their three children after she spent a night with neighbours to escape his abuse. ''You brought it all on yourself,'' he tells her when she finds the bodies. And then comes more - more tragedy, more skin-prickling revelation and psychological insight.

There is always more in a story by the 82-year-old author, hailed as a ''master of the contemporary short story'' by the judges who awarded her the Nobel prize in literature.

The first Canadian winner, Munro has published nothing but short stories in a 50-year career and is admired for the Chekhovian depth and subtlety of her fiction in its most concentrated form.

Writers and publishers of short stories across the English-speaking world will rejoice in the recognition for what is often dismissed as a lesser relation to the novel, practice for ''real'' writing.

As well as being deserved, her success is perfectly timed for several reasons. In a year when the spotlight has been on the relative lack of attention given to female writers in the media, Munro is only the 13th woman to win the prize in 112 years.

With booksellers enduring a downturn, Munro's refined but accessible writing will walk out of shops, unlike the work of more political or obscure recent laureates such as the Chinese writer Mo Yan and the Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer. Though less innovative in her writing than Japan's Haruki Murakami, who was considered the front-runner for the prize, she is equally respected and influential.

Munro, who lives a quiet and modest life, announced after the death of her second husband this year that she was ''content'' with her achievement and no longer had the energy to write. Whether she is inspired or further deterred by the glare of the Nobel, it is fitting to honour a writer's life as complete as hers.

Munro grew up in rural Ontario with narrow horizons, married at 20 and had the first of her three daughters at 21 soon after she and her husband moved west to Victoria, British Columbia, where they started the landmark Munro's Books.

But she had written since childhood and continued with determination between children, housework and working in the bookshop. Perhaps the short form suited her snatches of time.

Munro won the prize for her tales of the struggles, loves and tragedies of women in small-town Canada that made her what the award-giving committee called the "master of the contemporary short story."  

Sydney author and critic Sara Dowse, who has lived in Canada, says, ''The interesting thing about Munro apart from her subject matter - which is largely about women in rural Canada and their struggle - is the form she uses. I just wish there were outlets for Australian writers to write long stories. That's where she shone. The kind of stories she writes are extended enough to allow tremendous depth as well as breadth and surprise.''

Munro's first collection, Dance of the Happy Shades, won the Governor-General's Award for fiction in 1968 - the Miles Franklin equivalent - and she attracted acclaim for all 14 collections up to her most recent, Dear Life, in 2012. She won the Man Booker International Prize in 2009.

Her second collection, Lives of Girls and Women, was published in 1971 when feminism was flowering. ''If she had been writing in a different time and place she might not have had the same impact. But she stuck to her guns, she stayed with what she knew she could write well and develop to become a mature writer.''

After her marriage ended in 1972, Munro moved back to Ontario, remarried and continued to set most of her stories in the small-town environs of Huron County, which she says caused her the ''level of irritation'' she needed for writing.

 Photo courtesy of Reuters

Dowse knew Munro's ex-husband and recalls a story Munro had written, ''set in Vancouver when she was living over there and married and hating it. It was a time of stultifying conformity in B.C. A lot of her stories were about escape and this one was called Cortes, after a bohemian island that … represented all the things she was denied.''

Munro is a great example of the writer who illuminates universal themes by writing about the seemingly small and particular.

Clancy's comment: Well done, Alice. I guess there is hope for me yet. Better drag out all of my short stories and start revising them ... again. Many thanks to Susan Wyndham of the 'Sydney Morning Herald'.

I'm ...


Think about this!