By Michelle Griep
Psst…want to hear a secret? Writers don’t make a whole lot of money unless they’ve hovered in the number one slot on the New York Times Best Sellers. I don’t have any personal experience on ‘The List,’ but I have sold a few Christmas devotionals over the years. Usually I get a check in April. The amount? Let’s just say hopefully baby don’t need no new pair of shoes, ’cause that little amount sure ain’t gonna buy ’em.
What’s a writer to do? Oh, there’s the obvious. I teach creative writing. Great fun. But it’s not exactly a secure job from year to year or even after the promise of a semester. And then there’s the added bonus of trying explain showing vs. telling to young skulls full of mush. The deer-in-the-headlights open-mouthed stare from a classroom of students loses its charm real fast.
But with a tight economy, what else can an aspiring author do to earn some extra moolah?
With these thoughts swirling in my historical fiction writing mind, I wondered what the folks in the Middle Ages did for cash. Read over this gorily detailed Craig’s List of Medieval Job Offerings, and you just might be glad you’re an underpaid writer.
A fuller washed out grease and impurities from newly woven woolen cloth. The process? Put the cloth in a whoppin’ big vat of stale urine—yes, you heard right—then stomp on it for hours. The upside to this job is thighs and calves of steel, and the stench of the medieval streets would smell like roses after days on end of, well, I don’t suppose I need to repeat that.
Wanted: Lime Burner
The lime burner heated lime in a kiln at 1100 degrees Celsius to create quicklime which was used as mortar. Sounds like a relatively harmless gig, especially during the middle of winter, eh? Actually, OSHA would be all over this position. Not only does quicklime dust cause blindness, it can also spontaneously combust and kablooey…end of career, not to mention life.
Wanted: Treadmill Operator
No, I’m not talking exercise equipment. Think enormous hamster wheel with you as the small, furry rodent. You’d trudge for hours. And hours. And…
Wanted: Arming Squire
At first glance, this job seems innocuous enough. It’s kind of like being a lady’s maid, only for a sweaty, two-hundred pound piece of meat. An arming squire basically was a knight roadie. You’d look after a knight’s every need while traveling, making a home away from home each and every evening. Oh, there is one little task I should mention. After battle, it’s your job to clean the warrior’s armor. You know, the usual mud and blood and such, but one tiny detail that’s sometimes overlooked is that knights didn’t get toilet breaks. We’re talking a big, metal diaper. And water was too precious to be used for cleaning. You’ll have to use a mixture of sand, vinegar and a little urine—yes, you heard me right again—to clean that bad boy.
Wanted: Leech Collector
Bloodletting, gotta love it. Physicians of the Middle Ages sure did, upping the demand for leeches. The squeamish might want to stop reading here. So, how does one go about collecting those squishy little bloodsucking gems? Roll up your pants legs and wade into a marsh, of course, then stand there for awhile. If you think removing one leech is bad enough, imagine pulling off a whole bucketful from your lower extremities.
There you have it. Want to apply? Kind of makes the whole Wal-Mart greeter thing look better and better, eh?
Minnesota author, Michelle Griep, has been writing since she first discovered Crayolas and blank wall space. She has homeschooled four children over the past twenty years, and teaches both Civics and Creative Writing for area co-ops. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s debut historical romance, GALLIMORE, released December 15th.