How Mitchell S. Jackson Paid the Bills While He Wrote the Books

‘’Guys in prison always say, ‘I wish someone would write my life story. It would be a bestseller.’ So I thought I’d start writing mine.”

Mike Gardner
Feb 19, 2019 · 9 min read
Illustration: Lorenzo Gritti

Medium: When you were growing up, what did going to work look like?

Were you a reader or writer as a child?

Was basketball your path to college?

Did prison interrupt college?

Tell me about that.

We had a little bookshelf in my dorm, probably 10 or 20 books. I read those books, then I started writing my life story.

What job did you get?

Prison is where you first started to write. Tell me about that.

So is it safe to say you started reading because you wanted to figure out how to write your own story?

When you left prison, you said, “I made the decision to stay out.” Tell me how you did that.

Once you were back in college, did you take writing classes?

Did you just call the station and say, “I want to be a news anchor”?

How did your writing change during the MA program?

Did you still want to work in news?

How did you support yourself during school?·

I would literally run out of one class, hop the train, and be like two minutes late to the second class. Run from there. Hop a train to arrive one minute before the next class.

How did you find those gigs?

Were you still writing fiction at this point?

How were you protecting your writing time at this point?

Today, you’re on the faculty at NYU and published. What do your days look like now?

Mike Gardner

Written by

Reader. Writer. Paramedic.

Mike Gardner

Written by

Reader. Writer. Paramedic.

Day Job
Day Job
Day Job

About this Collection

Day Job

Private investigator. Subway conductor. Building superintendent. In Medium’s Day Job series, 12 accomplished authors discuss the years of the income-producing work they did to support their writing. From slicing soap in a luxury bath store to directing air strikes in Afghanistan, these authors discuss not only the jobs themselves, but also the ways they protected their time and creativity from the demands of their full-time careers (and still do!)

Private investigator. Subway conductor. Building superintendent. In Medium’s Day Job series, 12 accomplished authors discuss the years of the income-producing work they did to support their writing. From slicing soap in a luxury bath store to directing air strikes in Afghanistan, these authors discuss not only the jobs themselves, but also the ways they protected their time and creativity from the demands of their full-time careers (and still do!)

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