in conversation with John Wisniewski
JW: You had a variety of jobs over the years while getting on with your writing. Could you tell us about some of them, maybe a few that you enjoyed doing?
EW: I wholeheartedly agree with André Gide’s dictum, “All work that is not joyous is wretched.” And while the word ‘enjoy’ may not apply to my time in the Air Force, I still got a lot out of those four years, about which I’ll be writing in one of my future memoirs. It’s a given that I grooved on journalism. Some of that is covered in my most recent book, Tennessee Williams in Bangkok. And I am now encouraging Stanford University to obtain copies of all the pieces I wrote for the Bangkok Post so they can go into my archive there. We can forget the Tehran Journal (I was their sports and night editor in the mid-1970s), as that paper got buried after the 1979 Islamic revolution. I dug being a short-order cook and had the best teacher, namely my father! Programming first-generation IBM computers for two years was all right, until they started to bore me and I quit. Selling encyclopedias was a gas. Did that throughout the latter part of the Sixties, made good money, got to travel around Germany and France, then out to the Far East (where another life began for me). Managing a steakhouse in Hong Kong was cool. Ditto a few other gigs. It would never have crossed my mind to toil in a factory or on a farm. I’m a dunce when it comes to any kind of manual labor. All I’m good at with my hands are eating, writing, and sex.