"I REALLY WANTED TO BE A COP, BUT the New York City police department wouldn't hear of it; they're not going to issue a badge just because you really want them to," says freelance journalist Lynn Snowden, who had to scratch that profession off her wish list while mapping out Nine Lives. Too tall to be a jockey and too trim to make it on American Gladiators, Snowden wanted a résumé with a broad mix: high pay, low pay, blue-collar, white-collar, "highly reputable to downright sleazy." Her quest took her to nine cities, where she usually lodged in hotels and sometimes worked without pay just for the experience.
"If I had to pick one of these jobs to do for the rest of my life, teaching was the most satisfying, though I was ridiculously underpaid," says Snowden, who supplemented her salary with her book advance. Schlepping drinks to rowdy tourists in Las Vegas was by far the most demeaning job, stripping the most lucrative ($300 on a good night), and molding candy dinosaurs in a New England chocolate factory the hardest to come by (manufacturers are skittish about employees purloining secrets).
What job does she miss most? Touring as a heavy-metal-band roadie. "Once the spirit to keep myself clean was broken," she says, "I had a fabulous time sleeping in my clothes and forgetting about my moisturizer." Now out plugging her book, Snowden, who is separated and lives in Manhattan, has decided that "writing is the dream job. You get to sit down, you don't need an alarm clock or special clothes. All you have to do is think. Every time I read about a writer complaining of writer's block, I want to say, Try factor work.' "