by Gar Anthony Haywood

Like far too many Americans these days, I’m out of work.  Which is to say, I don’t have a day job that pays my bills.  I haven’t had one, in fact, for over three years now, or since I was laid off as a production artist for these people.  (The most rewarding and enjoyable work I’ve ever done, by the way.)

I’ve been in this position before, just as, I suspect, many of you have.  The writer’s lot, after all, is not generally filled with long, unbroken stretches of gainful employment.  So this vicious cycle of apply, wait, get rejected is nothing new to me.

Part of the problem in landing something is that I’m very rarely applying for the perfect job.  I apply for things I can do, and do well, but postings for work I know, absolutely know I could hit out of the goddamn ballpark are few and far between.

Go ahead and say it.  All together now: “Awwww, poor Gar!”

And that’s the proper response, of course, because there might be one person in every thousand in this world who holds his or her “perfect job.”  A job that is absolutely, ideally suited to one’s unique skill set and personal interests.  Everyone else, if they’re lucky enough to be employed at all, is doing work just for the sake of the paycheck.  Respectable work, maybe even enjoyable work, but work that falls short of making them deliriously happy, nonetheless.

Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that.

But, hell.  This is Wildcard Tuesday, isn’t it?  If a man can’t dream on Wildcard Tuesday, when can he dream?  Today, I think I’ll stand this whole job search process on its head and, instead of yearning from afar for the positions of my fantasies, I’ll just openly state my interest in them here and hope the right personnel directors take note.  What have I got to lose?

Here, then, are my seven Perfect Dream Jobs:

Screenwriter of Dirty Harry 6

I’ve shown my mad man-love for Clint Eastwood’s seminal Harry Callahan character here before, so it should come as a surprise to no one that I’d love to write the last—and it would, sadly, have to be the last—cinematic chapter in that series.  Eastwood’s reluctance to play Callahan again, at this late stage in his life, is understandable, but I think I’ve come up with a story that addresses all the credibility issues such a sequel could present.  All I need is a phone call from Malpaso to run out to the Warners lot and pitch it to the man himself.

It would make my day.

Joke Writer for Bill Maher

Maher can be a sexist ass at times, but when he’s on, he’s funny as hell.  While, generally speaking, we see eye to eye politically, I think it’s the thing we least have in common that would make our partnership a winning one: Maher’s a raging atheist and I’m an imperfect Catholic.  Sometimes, when worlds collide, funny happens.

I’m down to write a few New Rules if Bill’s willing to give me a shot.

Staff Writer on Justified

Television and I don’t often get along, I must admit.  The only two series I’ve ever written for taught me I’m about as well-suited for turning out standard boob-tube fare on a timely basis as Rick Santorum is to be a tattoo artist.  But given the right, smart, kick-ass show to work on—say, one not only based on a character created by Elmore Leonard, but actually committed to representing that character faithfully—I’m sure I could churn out a teleplay or two worthy of WGA accreditation.

Publisher’s Weekly once called one of my standalone thrillers “the best Elmore Leonard rip-off since Elmore Leonard,” and I’ve never been prouder of a potential blurb in my life.  If I can do it in prose, why not in television?

Graphics Designer for the Los Angeles Lakers

I don’t often mention it here, but I am a crazed fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, and more than once I’ve used the team’s victory in a championship series to strut my stuff as a poster art designer.  For instance:

My skills as a renderer are severely limited—I can only draw something with any degree of accuracy if it’s sitting directly in front of me—but I wield a mean copy of Photoshop.  Should Kobe and company find a way to win it all again this year (and right now that seems rather unlikely), I’m sure I’ll create another masterpiece suitable for framing just to celebrate their achievement.

But I’d much rather do it not as a sycophantic fan, but as an employee on the Lakers payroll.

Audio Book Reader for the Works of Daniel Pinkwater

As stated here, Pinkwater is a favorite author of my entire family, and I used to get a real kick out of reading his wacky books aloud to my two youngest children at bedtime.  I’m quite a ham, as anyone who’s ever seen me perform at conventions can attest, so I never did fewer than six different voices when reading a Pinkwater book.  It was loads of fun, and the idea of getting paid to do it all over again, for middle-grade readers around the globe, damn near moves me to tears of joy.  Hamlet?  Forget about it.  But a Daniel Pinkwater recital?

I’m your man.

Book Cover Artist for the 6.4 Million Self-Published Authors Who Desperately Need One

Los Angeles Lakers championship posters aren’t all I like to design.  Every now and then, I try my hand at doing book covers, as well.  Severn House had their own ideas several years ago regarding the cover art for my novel CEMETERY ROAD, and fine ideas they were, too, as things turned out.  But before the ink was dry on my book contract, I’d created two mock-ups based on ideas of my own.  Like this one:

And this one:

Most recently, I did the cover art for SHAKEN, the short story anthology Tim Hallinan put together to raise funds for the earthquake and Tsunami victims in Japan last year:

Again, as I admitted in my paragraph about Lakers poster art design above, I can’t do everything a real artist can do.  But give me a premise and a subscription to a few good stock photography sites, and look out.  I can be dangerous.

An Actor on The Good Wife

Okay, I’m no Sir Laurence Olivier, but I’ve got a pretty face and I once had a speaking part in an Audubon Junior High School production of The Pajama Game.  Plus, I have real on-screen presence, as this clip from the book trailer for Michael Connelly’s ECHO PARK clearly demonstrates:

No, I couldn’t carry a show of my own, but I think I could handle playing Archie Panjabi’s latest love interest quite easily.  Or a witness being grilled in the courtroom by Julianna Margulies.  A FedEx guy delivering a package to Christine Baranski?

How about a lawyer being fouled by Josh Charles in a basketball game at the gym?  You haven’t heard someone cry “And one!” convincingly until you’ve heard me cry “And one!”

What about you, my fellow ‘Rati?  What are some of your Perfect Dream Jobs?


  1. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Magnum Force was the very first R-rated movie I ever saw, and I was twelve years old. Freaked the hell out of me – big guns and sex. Maybe that's where it all began.
    After a year of writing full-time and watching my savings dwindle, I just returned to the day-job work-force myself. Actually, I begin next week. But it's a good gig, with good people, and good enough pay to pay all the bills and turn my writing into a passion again instead of a financial panic attack. Hey, I wrote Boulevard and Beat while working a full-time day job. So, maybe it's the way to go. I consider myself lucky, in this economy, to nab a good job. Let's see if I can write two more novels this year and a TV spec.
    I think you should get yourself a pitch at Malpaso, Gar. Ask your agent to set it up. You've got the cred.
    I'll be writing a spec episode of Breaking Bad this year, so I can have a sample to show for TV work. I spent the last couple months watching every BB episode from Season One to the present. Never give up the dream.
    And you look damn good in that Connelly book trailer. I'd make you for a lieutenant.

  2. Fran

    I'd love to see you on The Good Wife, Gar! You'd knock 'em dead and have a recurring character!

    I have my dream job. Well, y'know, if the bookselling/publishing business wasn't so tangled right now. But I've held lots of jobs (receptionist, dispatcher, teacher, live-in counselor) and this one rocks.

    There was a time I considered being a professional stage manager, and for a while I thought it'd be neat to read audio books.

    Although I have to admit I wouldn't turn down a stint as one of the idle rich, just to see what it's like. But honestly, after a while, I'd need something to do to keep from going (even more) batty, and I'd probably end up working in a bookshop again.

  3. Mark P

    I pretty much have my dream job – nabbing bad guys in real life. I've had many crummy gigs in the past and so know when to be thankful. Now, should the US Women's beach volleyball team need a sunscreen lotion applier, I might send off my resume, but until then I'll keep on doing what I'm doing until I'm a Lee Child-sized bestseller. 🙂

  4. Lisa Alber

    Everytime I change careers I've thought I was getting my dream job–hah! Even book publishing in NYC. Editing novels — dreamy! But I couldn't stand living in NYC after awhile, and I couldn't stand corporate politics either.

    My dream job is being a trust fund kid (managing my money managers) so that I could simply write. Hey, we're dreaming here, right?

  5. Zoë Sharp

    Every job, no matter how ideal, has days when it looks better from the outside than it does from the inside.

    Right now, though, I think I probably have my ideal job.

    Or very nearly … but I'm getting there.

  6. David Corbett

    Hey, those are MY jobs.

    I honestly couldn't think of anything I'd rather do than what I'm doing. I just would like to survive at it. And since all my favorite TV shoes get canceled, I don't know if I'd want to write for them or not.

    That said, I could always go back to PI work. As jobs go, it wasn't half bad.

  7. Laura

    I'm not sure what my dream job would be. If we're talking realistically I'd like to be a lawyer. But dream, dream job? The actress who gets to be Tinkerbell at Disneyland. I'm short, blonde and cute. :p I could totally pull it off. I've been Alice in Wonderland a few times for work (bookshop) and I've adored it. Unfortunately I probably only have a few good Tinkerbell years left!

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