Everyone thinks the other guy has a dream job

A lot of people think I have a dream job.  And it’s true, I feel incredibly lucky to be doing what I love to do.  But I’ve discovered that even people with so-called “dream” jobs fantasize about jobs they really wished they had.  An attorney once told me his secret dream was to be a heavy-equipment operator.  Some doctors want to be writers.  some writers want to be doctors.  I blogged here about shuttle astronauts and Secret Service agents each thinking the other guy had the cooler job. 

So who do I think has a dream job?  It’s this guy.

Not only do I envy Andrew Zimmern, I’ve also got a crush on him.  He’s the host of “Bizarre Foods,” and he travels the world in search of strange things to eat.  He has everything I love in a man: a yen to travel, a sense of curiosity, and a bottomless appetite.  Hey Andrew, you like fruit bats?  I like fruit bats!  You like sea cucumbers?  I like sea cucumbers!  Yep, I’ve eaten them. And I’ll even eat the stinky tofu.

Call me, Andrew.  Let’s do lunch.  And can I have your job?


And regarding my last entry about “How to write a bestseller,” there’s been some discussion in the blogosphere about just how valid those tips really are.  Some have questioned the meaning of “microtension”.  Is it just babble, signifying nothing?  Donald Maass isn’t here to define it for you in person, but here’s what I think it is.  (And yes, I do think it’s a great word.)  It’s that sense that, on every page of the novel, there’s conflict in the air, or that characters are slightly off-balance.  It needn’t be a flat-out argument or a gun battle or a huge confrontation.  In fact, you can’t throw in too many major conflicts or what you’ll get is melodrama.  But small and continuous doses of tension keep the story moving and keep the pages turning.

And no, just because you’ve written a novel of best-selling caliber doesn’t mean it will be a bestseller.  Too many other factors come into play such as publisher support and plain old good luck.  But garnering publisher support usually starts off with a manuscript that has the qualities Maass talks about.


19 replies
  1. spyscribbler
    spyscribbler says:

    You know what I dream of? I want that little chocolaterie in France, like in that movie, Chocolat. That’s my dream job. And I would insist on Johnny Depp being one of the perks.

    I can’t seem to do anything without striving. It’d be nice to have a little job, and let it stay a little job. Relaxing, simple. Let my family and friends be my whole world.

    Anyway, microtension is a fabulous word.

  2. drosdelnoch
    drosdelnoch says:

    LOL, hey Tess as long as you dont go all Trufaut or Goddard then its cool. LOL

    To be honest I think Book Editing is a cool job, sitting there helping people get a product that when its completed you have a sense of feeling that its a job well done.

    I do a lot of reading and every so often I get a book in and think, well that would have been better if they’d said it this way or that way. So much so that I start to keep an eye out for the Editors name alongside the author. Why? Well some seem to be better at it than others (or rather they suit my personal taste better than others.

    Obviously as an unpublished writer (I say that as I still dont have that first finished manuscript currently, which when it is Im an unpublished author, lol) I think you have a cool job but I can see it as a very nervous profession, always trying to second guess if what youre doing is right or do you want to work today or just sack it off and goof around. I can also see it being very lonely at times, sat there with no one else around as theyre at thier jobs. Thanks for the blog youve always got something thought provoking. Incidently if statistics are available hows the nervous disposition of writers against other jobs. Do writers have more breakdowns than say office workers?



  3. joe bernstein
    joe bernstein says:

    my desire in life was to be a locomotive engineer annd i wound up as a federal agent which was no dream job,but it wasn’t boring-i love Zimmern’s show-he didn’t really make it through the stinky tofu-i was visiting my daughter in Pittsburgh and we ate at a Taiwanese place called the Rose Tea Cafe-they had the aforementioned dish which they called “smelled bean curd”-we didn’t try it-if you recall Zimmern couldn’t gag down that dish in Morocco made of rotten meat in congealed fat,but he sure has gone out on a limb to try some fascinating stuff-my grandmother made jellied calve’s foot-sounds terrible,but tasted great-Zimmern has fun meeting people from all over the world and he seems to be the sort who genuinley likes the experience of other cultures-i have friends from Cameroon who cook some very unusual dishes that i’m not sure what is in them but they are very good nonetheless

  4. knaster
    knaster says:

    Hi Tess,

    I understand about bizarre foods. I once went to a wedding and ate 3 plates of what I thought was chicken. I mean, it was good, until someone asked me how could I eat something like that. It turned out to be sweetbreads and when I was told what it was made of, let’s just say “clean-up in aisle 4”
    Don’t alot of waiters want to be actors and alot of actors moonlight as waiters? We can never have our “dream job.” I don’t think there IS such a thing. There is always something that everyone hates about their job. Even me. But I won’t tell you because I’m not supposed to be on the ‘net right now.
    Anyway, fruit bats and sea cucumbers aside, I guess if you’re not told what you’re eating can save alot of wear and tear on the old mop. Maybe we’re better off not knowing. As for tofu…or what I call bean “turd,” I can do without it.

  5. ec
    ec says:

    The comments about “microtension” vs melodrama brought to mind a recent episode of Nip/Tuck. I don’t follow the show, and I saw part of this one because my hubby was channel-surfing. During the part of the episode I saw, it was revealed that the girl a young man was sleeping with was actually his half-sister (his biological father is the promiscuous best friend and business partner of the man who married his mother). The father proceded to boff the girl’s mother, who had both legs amputated because of diabetes and who later begged him to do plastic surgery on her face to give her back the youth she’d sacrificed to raising their daughter. There were media frenzies focused on thecuckolded medical partner, who apparently was doing a TV show in addition to his practice as a plastic surgeon. There was a car accident involving his daughter and his partner (the young man’s bio father). His ex wife, the woman they both loved and the mother of both children above-mentioned, woke up from a coma with amnesia. And while her ex-husband prepared to repair the facial injuries sustained by their young daughter, he was attacked by a stalker and stabbed with a 9-inch knife about five or six times.

    There was a lot of drama in this episode. And you know what? It was really hard to care about any of it. For one thing, these characters are so aggressively vapid. For another, the plot, despite all the big splashy and sordid events, had little real tension.

  6. holly y
    holly y says:

    Not necessarily a dream job, but when I’m stressed I think about being a waitress in an Iowa (or Ohio, or Indiana or Illinois — one of those “I” states) truck stop. I would only have to serve coffee and cream pies. I would be anonymous. I could joke with people and never see them again. Hmmm. Sounds like running away rather than dreaming!

    I’m in Romania and these people love eating brains of anything and a chilled gelatinous dish of “puddin meat”, the cooked off stuff of a pig’s head. Sorry, but … gag!

  7. Meeka
    Meeka says:

    My Dream Job??? To be a published Author. But I have to tell ya that its not as easy as what most people think! And I feel For ya Tess! When I’m trying to complete my course assignments I do feel selfish. My other half is constantly annoying me right when I have ideas I’ve got to jot down straight away. Otherwise I forget! But its funny my job at the moment is Administration/Reception so its quite different do my dream job. One is dealing with people and the other is flying solo.

    Everyone has a dream job they’d rather be doing than the current one. But I think once your doing that dream job… you find your tastes change and theres always going to be something better out there. Are we ever satisfied??????

    Peace out

  8. Craig
    Craig says:

    Tess, your guy Andrew was on the Today Show this morning. It was worth it to watch Meredith sample fried scorpion.

  9. ec
    ec says:

    Dream job: opera singer. I love the odd, quirky, non-ingenue roles such as the Queen of the Night from Mozart’s Magic Flute, the mother in “Amahl and the Night Visitors.”

  10. Shannon
    Shannon says:

    I have a dream job, though five minutes before I heard about it, I wouldn’t have thought it to be that. I’ve worked the last nine years as a prison chaplain and love the work more each day.

    And the stories! Lots of stories. Some of them I write about. Most of them are true. And, as someone once said, some of them actually happened.

  11. naomi
    naomi says:

    Funny, I was just talking to a friend about my dream job. Aside from being a muli-published author (someday, with hard work, it will happen), I want a job where I get to read whatever I want for the pure enjoyment of reading and get paid at least what I’m making now. I don’t want to have to write reviews or edit them or anything. Just read for the pleasure of it.

    And because no such job exists, I’ll continue to head to the old 9-5. *sigh*

  12. joe bernstein
    joe bernstein says:

    tess-zimmern’s first show of the new season is on now and he’s in beijing eating donkey!if you meet him you better hide the pets!:)

  13. Mikal
    Mikal says:

    Traveling and eating food sounds great to me! Although I’d be the size of a baby whale by the time I retire. Heck, I’d probably never retire. 🙂

  14. naomi
    naomi says:

    I just heard this on the radio last night. Andrew Zimmern and Carlson-Wagonlit travel have partnered and Andrew is going to be on a Culinary Cruise to the Mexican Riveria in November.

  15. lwidmer
    lwidmer says:

    I’m lucky to be living my dream, but part of me still wishes I’d studied more psychology or car repair manuals (closet auto mechanic wanna-be here)….

    I’ve read a bit of the debate on the “microtension” issue. I’m falling into the camp that sees the validity of it as a technique. And I think it’s just one aspect of the larger picture – sort of the tree in a painting by Bonnard. It’s there and it is part of the glue of the painting, but it’s not the reason the painting exists. Would the tree’s absence make a difference? Absolutely. Likewise with microtension. Your story would be worse off without the underlying elements. What separates fantastic writing from acceptable writing? The details. Microtension is a significant detail.

  16. Josephine Damian
    Josephine Damian says:

    Tess: Donald’s mantra used to be “tension on every page.” His new mantra is “tension in every sentence.”

    I’ll be attending a 3 1/2 day “microtension” workshop in November, and no doubt I’ll have many “tense” moments to share from my workshop.

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