Working It Out Release Party—The Evil Day Job: Not so Evil?

July 19, 2014

Another hour must have passed by, because here I am again to talk about my new story Working It Out.

Like many other writers I don’t write for a living. It’s a hobby—a paying hobby, but a hobby nevertheless. I’ll never write enough, or sell enough of what I do write, to be able to give up the day job. While I wouldn’t mind having to myself the time the job takes out of my week, at the same time I enjoy my work.

A lot of creative artists refer to the bill-paying, food-buying job as the “evil day job” or EDJ. I’m not so sure they’re all that evil, specially if you write fiction.

Why not? Because they bring you into contact with people and situations that can be used in your stories. People say things you could never make up, they do things you wouldn’t have thought of. Things happen that you just didn’t expect. I see the day job, and my commute there, as providing inspiration for my writing.

Just like sitting in a cafe, a bus station, or a park, your job presents you with opportunities to observe people. You also get to see how a workplace functions, how a team interacts, what happens in the course of a working day. It’s no coincidence that quite a lot of my characters work in offices. That’s where I’ve spent my working life, I know how they work. In one story, still to be finished, I have a character arrive at the office in the morning. This sentence was inspired by what actually happens if you work for a big organisation, where the computers are connected to a centralised network and run a mandatory virus check at every point, including logging in.

“He busied himself with the usual routine of turning on the computer and making a drink while it crawled through the login process.”

That right there is an example of writing something I know inside out. How many times have I done exactly the same thing? No idea, but it’s a lot over the years.

In Working It Out, Joe has a bullying boss. I’ve had a few of those in my time, and she’s based, in part, on some of the things they did. Thankfully I’ve had a lot more good bosses than bad, but the bad ones were very bad indeed. The silver lining is that they provided me with an example of something a bully does, which is to decline holiday requests as a method of showing you they’re the one in charge. So even the worst jobs can give you something to use in a story.

A new hour means a new question, of course. What was the worst (or best) job you ever had? Comment for a chance to win a copy of Working It Out. (You don’t have to answer my question, you can make up your own if you’d like.)

Cover of Working It Out by Kristen Slater


Celebrating six months with his boyfriend has Cas in a bit of a panic. Joe’s been saying “I love you” for a while, but Cas just can’t get the words past his lips. A week before Christmas, he finally says them when a nearly fatal accident almost takes Joe, and Cas faces the possibility of losing the best man he’s ever known. But whispered declarations are one thing. Through a long, tough recovery both men must work out that love is more than words.

You can buy it now in the Dreamspinner store.

And don’t forget to see what else I have to say on my blog and twitter.

8 Responses to “Working It Out Release Party—The Evil Day Job: Not so Evil?”

  1. Susan says:

    The best job I ever had was teaching at a HBCU in New Orleans before Katrina hit. I know I made a difference in several of my students’ lives and it was so rewarding.

  2. H.B. says:

    None of my jobs were bad or good. I didn’t enjoy them but I also didn’t hate them. They just were a means to an end for me.

  3. Kristen says:

    Susan, that sounds like a very fulfilling job. One of the things I’ve always enjoyed has been showing people with whom I work how to do something. That buzz when they get it, or when they come back to you to say they managed to do it by themselves this time, is incredible. It’s never technically been part of my job, but I tend to be a know it all who likes to share. :D

  4. Kristen says:

    H.B., I think a lot of jobs are like that. On the whole, we work because we’ve got bills to pay, and it’s nice to be able to eat. Lucking into a job that just fits, or that really is enjoyable is always good, but rare. I’ve been very lucky (well, after the first 16 years which sucked big time) in getting jobs that were new posts where they didn’t know exactly what it would involve, so I got a chance to create jobs that worked around my skills and preferences. I also had good bosses in those more recent jobs, who were happy for me to make a me-shaped job.

  5. Sula says:

    Whilst at college I had some really good temporary jobs but but one in particular was very bad. I was given an assignment to sort out a database, so far so good, the staff were nice and I was not troubled by the odd comment I heard that nobody stayed in that job for long.

    Then after two weeks the trouble started, the assistant from hell (who terrorised all the managers and kept them under her power) returned from leave and was upset by the new girl in her work area. She sulked, glared at me all the time and then kept piling up my desk with paper work she wanted sorting which was nothing to do with my work remit. When I dared to say that I had to finish of the database first, she had a massive tantrum and said she would get me sacked.

    I called up my work agency and they advised the last person they had sent walked out after a day and said they would speak to the HR contact at the company. I was then called into the bosses office to repeat what had happened and they asked if I could stay to the end of the week. I did, to finish the assignment, but later learnt that they have moved that person to another department and sent her on a few courses for managing anger and dealing with others.

  6. Kristen says:

    I wonder if she ever did take the training in, or whether she continued being a problem. If she’d been like that for long enough to have that kind of reputation they should have fired her rather than sending her on training. But then, I’m not surprised, given my early experiences with how bullies were accommodated instead of dealt with. I’m glad you survived the experience. :)

  7. Trix says:

    The first one was my favorite, working in a cafe on campus. I liked my co-workers, and the food was excellent. The only bad part was cleaning the frozen yogurt machine–those things are complex, and the process takes forever!

  8. Kristen says:

    And it was probably your turn to clean it on those days when you wanted to get off on time! Did you get discounted food, or did you have to pay the same as everybody else?

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