Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Presently, For a Living

The big dream for so many writers is to do it full-time, without having to work a "regular" job to pay the bills. I'm no different. Unfortunately, I'm still at the "regular" job stage of my career. I work in a bookshop, which is no longer just a bookshop, with three days a week at the moment.

I get paid minimum wage to process deliveries, work on the till, help out with the magazines with the senior staff member in charge of them is out, price and merchandise books, and generally keep the place clean when I'm in. And that's just the half of it.

There's very little I don't do in the shop, but the standout task for me is recommending new books to people. It tends to happen more often in the children's section than anywhere else in the shop, because I have the most experience of personal reading in that section out of anyone else in the shop - though the staff member in charge of book orders would know the section better than I would from more direct involvement in the stock processing.

No other job in the shop is quiet like getting to recommend a new book series to a teenager who's only figuring out what they like to read, or finding something similar to books someone's read and enjoyed.

Recently, with the big John Green craze, it means getting to recommend The Perks of Being a Wallflower and We Were Liars to readers. For fans of The Hunger Games, I just to Gone, and fans of Divergent to The Mortal Instruments. Figuring out what people would like is a big job - and one that relies on their personal taste as much as my opinion - and it's the thing I don't mind dedicating a little bit of extra time to, especially if it means that someone will have something to look for the next time they come in.

It's not quite a job for a living, not the same way my parents' jobs are for a living, because I'm still lucky enough to be living at home while still in part-time employment. However, it's let me save for a Masters. It's let me replace my old laptop, with one of the hinges shattered to pieces so that it can't close, and get some equipment for the Masters and beyond. It's a job that's let me go to the cinema on a regular basis, and buy books when I feel like it, keep up with magazine subscriptions, go see friends and eat out for dinner every now and then.

It's not a living, not with a mortgage and bills and a car to run, but it is a life I wouldn't have otherwise.

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