All you struggling artists and writers out there, take heart. It may seem like you’re just spinning your wheels at that random job you got walking dogs/painting fences/selling umbrellas on the corner, but you could find your inspiration for the Next Great American Novel at any moment.
Or, think of it this way: one day you’ll get to talk about whatever you’re doing now as a charming aside in interviews with the New York Times. After all, from pirating to condom sales to modeling, many of the most famous authors in American history had a few pretty weird day jobs to pay the bills before they hit the big time, and we don’t know about you, but we find that to be a comforting thought.
Click through to see some of the strangest day jobs of beloved authors before they were famous, and then get back to work.