Not too long ago, I wrote down all the jobs I’ve ever had. These are paying jobs or jobs I received some kind of compensation for (like being a RA/MA paid for my room and board). I came up with 20 jobs, from my first job at age 16 to my current position as an associate editor.

Kroger’s grocery store bagger
MSU telephone research survey caller
Hollywood Video
Front desk (for one residence hall)
University Events usher
Front desk (to another residence hall)
Edited to add: Student newspaper reporter
Community bookstore
Front desk manager
Summer RA
Multicultural Advisor
Office of International Education
Olan Mills
Sheldon Cleaners
Staff Writer
Edited to add: Freelance reporter
Assistant editor
Page designer
Associate editor

I don’t know if I should be surprised or not that I have worked more than 20 jobs so far in my life. I mean, I’m glad I’m employed and that I started working and making my own money when I was young, but then again, it makes me feel like that’s all I’ve been doing my whole life–working.

But it is true. I have been working for more than 15 years–as a writer. And these 20+ jobs have helped me on that path. I was able to work in college when I was getting my creative writing and journalism degrees. On slow days at Sheldon Cleaners, I brought in my laptop and wrote (I completed my first novels during that time). I became a staff writer for a weekly newspaper and they allowed me take six weeks off one summer to attend Odyssey, plus they allowed me to return to school to get my master’s while I continued to work for them full-time.

So, these “day jobs” have also affected my “dream job”–in a good way. I’m lucky I can write for a living.