Megan Dorei is an aspiring writer who works as a housekeeper; here is a link to her blog:
Q: When did you know you were a writer?
A: I guess about the same time I learned how to draw. When I was three or four I started sketching these really crude images of what I guess were supposed to be people (they more or less looked like potatoes with eyes) and stapling the pages together to make a book. After writing became a more convenient and discernible way of conveying my stories, I started writing as much as I could, and it became even more prevalent once I entered junior high and high school. My teachers probably thought I was a deeply committed note-taker, but while the rest of the class was learning about polynomials and linear equations, I was sending soldiers out to battle and making animals talk. Probably why I could never get the hang of algebra.
Q: What kind of themes do you like to write about?
A: Although romance and love play a big part in nearly every story I write, I don’t enjoy writing strictly romance stories as much as I do action, sci-fi or fantasy. It feels as though a lot of romance novels today are either trying to be the next Hallmark Valentine’s Day special or the next “Fifty Shades”. I enjoy love stories, but if there’s no alien invasion or government takeover going on in the meantime, it’s just not as much fun to write. That being said, I can’t usually commit to a story that has absolutely no romantic element, either. So for me it’s just about finding that healthy balance.
Q: Who are some of your creative influences?
A: As far as authors go, Stephen King and Ally Condie are my heroes, although from COMPLETELY different ends of the spectrum. I enjoy King’s raw, unfiltered and often darkly humorous way of storytelling, but at the same time I’m in love with Condie’s moving poetic prose. I also have a special literary soft spot for lyricists John McCrea and Pete Wentz, and their affinity for unusual description. The poet Lisel Mueller is another fantastic influence, for her beautiful imagery and masterful truth-telling.
Q: What kind of training have you had?
A: My high school English teachers and reading. Lots and lots of reading. After I started writing with the God-honest intention of publication- when it was no longer just some fancy, far off dream- I began reading books like a writer instead of a reader. I began to recognize intention behind metaphors and to discern bad writing from good, and good from great. And I like to think that my writing has improved quite a bit since that first hopeful submission. I’m a better writer than my past self was, and that’s a victory.
Q: How does your job as a housekeeper influence your writing?
A: Quite a bit, actually. Experiencing the world from a blue collar perspective instead of from a generic office setting is a real eye opener. That’s not to say that I have it bad- I actually really enjoy my job. I don’t have to deal with people much and I can usually just listen to my music while I vacuum and play around with whatever plot bunnies have been multiplying shamelessly in my head. It may sound cheesy, but I’ve learned quite a few things about “real life”, and maybe that’s just a “first real job” kind of thing but it’s definitely been an experience.
Q: What is the oddest thing you ever come across while cleaning?
A: Well I can tell you right now that one of the best things I’ve found has been a pair of Gorillaz Chuck Taylors. And once a tenant who skipped town left his Mustang behind. As far as strangeness, however, I’d have to say the stuffed broccoli toy with its blue kilt and vacant, demonic expression probably takes the cake.
Q: How great is the temptation to snoop?
A: I think, as a writer, the temptation to snoop is as ingrained as the instinct to narrate the world around you, whether you realize it consciously or not. The stories in our heads are always demanding to be fleshed out and clothed in experience. Writers snoop for knowledge, snoop for wisdom, snoop for anything that the stories hunger for. Of course as you grow up you learn to curb those cravings, and a writer’s curiosity is never intended to be rude or offend, it’s merely an essential way for the voices in your head to flourish. As a cleaner, however, I don’t really think I could care less about snooping…although occasionally I do partake in a bit of dumpster diving.
Q: Do you work independently or for a company?
A: For a company. Eventually I would love to work independently- I mean, it is the American dream, to be your own boss and set your own hours and be successful at it- but all great things take time, effort, bravery and luck. That’s what makes them worthwhile, and I’m willing to pay my dues for that white picket fence.
Q: What is the biggest misconception about people in your profession?
A: About housekeepers? That they’re a lesser breed of people, firstly. College degrees are admirable, of course, but I’ve always held a special place in my heart for the people who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. Secondly, that all our job consists of is a little bit of dusting here or there. That is very much not true; it’s hard work, and I’ve toned my physique because of it (not that I’m complaining!) The biggest misconception about writers? That it’s easy. I mean, sure, the writing itself is almost always enjoyable because it’s something I truly love to do. But that doesn’t always guarantee that it’s easy. It’s really terrifying putting your heart out there with the intention of letting other people in, and if you aren’t blessed with a thick skin you’re just asking for a bunch of well-aimed arrows. But every creative endeavor is a vulnerability, and worth every bull’s eye.
Q: What are you working on right now?
A: A scattering of unfinished short stories and the first novel in what I think may become a series. The novel is most likely going to contain demons, unicorns, dystopian societies, vigilantes, Great Gatsby-esque parties and vampire warfare- you know, your basic fiction essentials. Also, stockpiling songs on my iPod for the apocalypse. Always that.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)