Marion ZImmer Bradley (I think) mentioned writers and their strange other jobs in the intro to one of her Sword and Sorceress anthologies, years ago. Of course, this was decades before the current horrorshow of the gig economy and the various big corporations who simply don’t want to pay their content providers (and writers least of all), but there is maybe some comfort to be had in the fact that writing is something you can still do when you’re supposed to be doing something else. Writers can be getting on with writing even when we are doing something else.



I’ve had various jobs in the last few years that, miserable and underpaid as they might have been, did at least seem to boost my writing in unexpected ways. Roaming around Surrey and Kent trying to persuade people to get their Sunday papers delivered got me over a long spell of writers’ block and I roughed out at least half the plot of a BDSM novella while I was skidding on wet leaves and being chased by dogs.

The only problem with that job and the one that followed it (market research and opinion polls) was that every now and again I would have to interrupt my train of thought and concentrate on talking to whichever poor fool had opened his or her front door to me.


Delivering junk mail turned out to be rather better in terms of being able to tackle plot twists and plan out character arcs and all the rest of it. All the walking helped me stay at least moderately fit and healthy, and because I didn’t have to deal directly with people I could talk to myself and pull as many weird faces as I wanted.

Curiously, the one job that I might have imagined would be an absolute boon to an erotica writer provided me with a fund of anecdotes for friends but not so much in the way of story inspiration. That was the sexting work. (For some reason, possibly the growth of Tindr and/or webcamming or whatever, commercial sexting seems to have died out at present.)


Perhaps it was because my head was so saturated with bad sex and explicit abuse from horny, frustrated and fundamentally stupid men that I didn’t feel much interest at all in contemplating erotic ecstasy during office downtime. I did discover, a few  months ago, that I had managed to write one short story in that time which focussed  on the (then-radical and cutting edge) concept of turning a lover on with explicit text messages. I was seeing which of my stories from that era could be revamped and rewritten for the anthology Sticky Fingers and Warm Leatherette but the text one didn’t make it in there…



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