Book Trailer The Noble Train

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Writers Factotum

When you are a writer you do anything. Anything. Bukowski's second novel, Factotum, proves the point beautifully and the movie does the same. You accept right away that every job you ever have is temporary. You accept that every job is just a means to an end and the end is writing. You evaluate the job in how much time it gives you to write. That's it. Nothing else matters. Not the money. Not the job itself. Just how much time it gives you to plow away at your craft.

Best factotum job I ever had was security guard. Pile up the books in the Wrigley building on Michigan Avenue and watch the hours dribble away. Midnight to eight AM. Nothing to do but make the rounds of the building from the coal chutes in the basement to the little room up in the clock tower. Scribble in the log. 1300 Saw a bug. 1400 Squashed a bug. 1500 No bugs. Sometimes they got on me about the log so I wrote more. 1300Saw a bug. Roach. Big. Moving south down the hallway. 1400 Followed roach into men's room. 1500 Smashed roach into a brown smear. That usually did the trick. Mostly I just read. Eight hours of reading literature. Great job.

Then there was the janitor job. Custodian. Stationary engineer. My boss laid it down for me. Just stay lost. Here is your broom. Just stay lost and make sure no one runs out of toilet paper. I read in the bathroom stalls. Stopped the freight elevator between floors and read whole novels. Kept the toilet paper up. Took rolls home for my own use. Pushed around the same dust for hours. Read Read and Read some more. Lost the job when they said someone was stealing rolls of toilet paper. How low can you go.

After that there was construction cleanup, the railroad, waitering, mortgages, renting apartments, teaching. Teaching was the worst factotum job. They wanted you to work and know the students name and read their work. I didn't know anybodies name and didn't read anybodies work. The bakery. Working the night shift at the bakery. Great factotum job. Take orders all night long until about two AM. Then just sit in the shipping office with the loaves going around conveyor belts all night long. The smell of the long loaves was amazing. The Italians with the flour all over their faces screaming what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck. Then I got to take hot bread home in my jacket on my motorcycle. Blasting through the streets of Chicago with a nights worth of literature and hot bread against my stomach.  Nothing better than the factotum life man.
Rocket Man will blast off in April

Books by William Hazelgrove