What I do for cash.


On the Writer’s Bloc webpage, they have a regular post about what writers will do for cash. I read one the other day about a guy who has to engage in sex work but now he prefers horticulture. I think both make for great literature, but it is pretty atrocious that this is what somebody must do to survive as an artist – telling times indeed.

I think it is a little bit of a stretch for me to attach ‘writer’ to my job description, or my twitter profile, but here is a little expose about what student editors do for cash – or more to the point, for library fines.

I used to have a job working in a cute/grungy little cafe on the south end of King Street but they went broke, so for the last week I’ve had no cash and some massive library fines. If owners of small businesses wrote blogs, they might have a page about what cafe-owners do for cash, but you would have to find that yourself.

I decided I’d do what any respectable writer would do and sell all my excess goods – which of course largely includes books. First stop: the Co-op bookshop. I have all my textbooks, some of which cost up to $80 despite being skinnier than a well written novella and totalling at over $250 at retail price. I got $40.50. This may sound outrageous but I figured I’d get less and I’m pretty happy with this.

Next is the second hand bookshop. I cannot bring myself to go to Gertrude and Alice, my regular place, because selling my books at such a petty price so soon after applying for a job will make me look desperate. Instead I drive through the city and watch as the millions of Western Sydney Wanderers’ fans make their way to the stadium. The roads are choc-full and police are everywhere. It certainly makes a more interesting adventure than heading down to Bondi.

The girl at the counter has one of those edgy-hipster fringes and is apparently an aspiring comic book artist. She tells me that they do not take any fiction that is older than two years old, unless it is by a classic author, Hemingway or Julian Barnes or somebody like that. They also don’t take crime fiction. Most of my books are safe choices for a bookseller, but they decide SF is too close to Crime fiction so Orson Scott Card does not make the cut.

Now, if second hand booksellers ran a blog, they might write about what they do for cash but I doubt it would include buying books from me at a decent price. They go for a dollar each. I find this pretty outrageous and point out that one of the poetry books was shortlisted for the Victorian Premiers Literary Award this year and that another is brand new. She is very un-phased so they get pulled from the pile. Still I take the deal and let go of books worth well over a dollar. I think Moby-Dick is worth less than that and I’m struck with luck that they were foolish enough to take it at such a price.

I have a total of fourteen books that the comic-fringe girl takes away from me. Apparently she amassed huge amounts of library fines too and in a moment of sympathy she gives me fifteen dollars. I gratefully accept her generosity and leave. I still have a fair bit to go but it is Saturday night and I think I’m going to have a drink.