To be or Not to Be: Novel Writer or Mortician?
Along with being a firefighter or a tap dancer, being a mortician is not a career I ever seriously considered. But this week, in helping a young woman explore her future options, I came across the “Mortician’s Degree.”
In examining the class requirements it’s clear I could excel here. In fact I could teach these classes:
Understanding Death and Dying. Yup, lots of experience.
Managing drunk and disorderly relatives. I am a savant.
Making people feel you care at all times, even if you’d rather be getting your teeth cleaned. Pretty good at that. I’d get a B. Maybe even a B+.
Speaking in hushed tones. OK, so I have to take that class, and it will be a challenge.
The funeral services job market has to beat that of a novel writer. So, I’ll compare these two career options, before committing to editing this recent novel, yet again. Obviously, I hate rewriting.
Mortician and Novel Writer, Things in Common:
You work alone in the dark.
It’s awkward at dinner parties, when someone asks what you do.
(I’d rather say I was a mortician than talk about writing novels.)
Only other (morticians/writers) appreciate how hard the craft is.
You work with dead people. (At least in historical fiction.)
You meet interesting people but in very strange circumstances. (Have you been to a writer’s conference? Very strange circumstances, fascinating people.)
Your best work goes into a box and gets buried. ( As a writer, not ideally. But lets face it, a lot of great writing is buried somewhere.)
You try to make a dead body look alive. (This is called resuscitating a manuscript after it has been suffocated by over-editing.)
You examine people closely, at their worst. (This is where we writers get our material. Happy people make terrible characters.)
The dead guy is the star of your show. (Duh. I write mysteries.)
Differences in the two career options:
Every town needs a mortician.
Morticians take vacations.
Morticians dress better.
That’s about it. Oh, and of course morticians get paid.
So, I am signing up for classes. I bought my first textbook. It’s called: Dead People Are Great Listeners.
Hey, maybe I finally have an audience for that first novel I wrote!
I’ll have to dig it up.