The Big Dream
“How To Keep Your Day Job”
“How to Keep Your Day Job,” is from Rebecca Rosenblum’s second collection of short stories, THE BIG DREAM (Biblioasis, 2011). Her debut collection, ONCE, won Canada’s Metcalf-Rooke Award and was one of Quill and Quire’s 15 Books That Mattered in 2008. Her work has been seen in Exile Quarterly, The Antigonish Review, Journey Prize Stories 19, and Best Canadian Stories. Rosenblum holds an Honors English degree from McGill and an MFA from the University of Toronto. She lives in Toronto.
Rosemblum said this about her story: The original “How to Keep Your Day Job” was written for performance. I was part of the short-lived but warm-hearted theatre group Free Biscuit, and we were putting together a show of monologues. I’d never written for the stage before, but it turned out to be a great gift.
My monologue was to be performed by the very talented improviser Jess Grant. Jess gave generously of her time, rehearsing multiple versions. I’d write something, then get her to perform my words back to me. She grew the character for me right in front of me – it was magic to hear her say a line and realize it worked or didn’t because I knew who this character was. A writer spends much time trying to believe that the voices in her head live and breathe. What a gift to have someone make that true.
I have to admit, once the performances were done it was a relief to turn my stage piece into a page piece – monologue-writing has a lot of constraints I wasn’t used to! Even in its new form, I think this story contains much of Jess’s style and tone. That’s intimidating when I read the piece to audiences – her performances are a lot to live up to. But seeing the process of her building that performance actually help to create the piece – it wouldn’t exist in it’s current form without Jess’s inspiration.