Other Gigs.

This is cross-posted from Terryn’s blog DopeReads.com.

So again HuffPost Books hits us off with a listicle of what famous authors were doing before they were writing. Well, that’s well and dandy, except for all of the list was all white, and there was only one woman (Harper Lee). And to be quite honest, who really cares that Daniel Defoe was extracting smells out of civet cat booties? Yuck!

Anyway, noting the lack of…flavor, shall we say, DopeReads put together its own list of what famous authors were doing before they were writing! Peep game.

Toni Morrison – Editor

The “Beloved”, “Bluest Eye” and “Song of Solomon” author and Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison was editing black luminaries at Random House before she became a household name herself.

Junot Diaz – Pool table delivery dude.

According to this New York Mag article his spinal stenosis was a result of the wear and tear of pool table delivery he did before his writing.

Maya Angelou – Dancer, Activist and Mother

If you’ve read any of her autobiographies, you’ll come to know that Maya Angelou was a hustler before and during her writing career. Can we also acknowledge the flyness she’s giving with this thigh? You can read more about her life here.

Haruki Murakami – Jazz Club Owner

Before he was authoring novel gold, he was a jazzman. Peep this personal essay from the writer about his club Peter Cat and what drew him to pick up the pen.

Arundhati Roy – trained architect, aerobics instructor, screenwriter

“From the time I was a very young child, I knew in my heart that I wanted to be a writer. I never thought I would be able to become one — I didn’t have the financial opportunities to be a writer.” So, Roy decided to hustle – she taught aerobics and was a screenwriter before becoming a novelist. Read more about her life path in this 1997 Salon interview.

Langston Hughes – Busboy

The “Negro Speaks of Rivers” writer Langston Hughes was famously known to have been a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel in Washington DC. Now there is a well-known resturaunt in DC named for Hughes’ side job!

Sandra Cisneros – teacher and counselor

Sandra Cisneros wrote “The House on Mango Street”, but she also served as a teacher and counselor to high school droputs, according to her website.

So, what other authors can you think of that had fly side- and pre- writerly hustles? Who are we leaving out?


Terryn is a baldhead black book blogger.You can follow her on Twitter/IG (@dopereads) or on her blog, DopeReads.