Genius Dressed in Working Clothes

“Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson (American Poet, Lecturer and Essayist, 1803-1882)

In the last two days I have read two working class books by two very good writers. One on recommendation from Lauri the other I picked up because of my work in the restaurant industry and the fun cover.

The first, A Broom of One’s Own, features great essays from author Nancy Peacock that tell a lot about the human condition and her writing life through her housekeeping jobs.
The second, Dishwasher, is a very funny entertaining book about “zine author” and professional dishwasher Pete Jordan as he tries to complete his goal of washing dishes in each of the fifty states.

What I loved about both of these books is that the authors took their jobs seriously and didn’t make excuses for what they did as a profession. If you ever worked in either of these industries, cleaning or the restaurant industry you know its a tough, underpaid (for the most part), invisible and under appreciated gig.

As someone who has worked in the restaurant industry and cleaned houses through high school and collage I have often thought where might I be if I choose another “more professionally respected job”. Well, for one I wouldn’t have met my husband and also I think the people and situations I’ve been in are unique and have given me so many characters and situations to write about. That being said, don’t let what you do for a living define you as a person. Where ever you are right now is a good place to start if you want to write. Don’t let your lack of education or job experience hold you back.

Today write a one page scene where your character is in an invisible profession. How would he or she act or think? Use lots of description and make the reader feel for the character. Now get back to work.


The Writing Nag

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2 Replies to “Genius Dressed in Working Clothes”

  1. Here’s a thought I had some time ago and was reminded of recently:
    If you have the attitude of, “I’m just a maid” or whatever, that is probably what you will remain. If you think, “I’ll be the best damn maid I can be” you will climb the ladder to whatever you want to be.
    Also, I read a story (Reader’s Digest maybe?) about an illegal immigrant who started picking grapes in California. Something like 20 years later, he owns the vineyard.

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