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Sunday 1 April 2007

Re-Creative, Inc.: Making Genre Writers Useful for a Change

by Buffo Tuelth

TUCSON, ARIZ. - No one knows better than Ernest P. Galloway that most writers can't make a living solely from their writing. But no one has done more to turn that fact to their advantage than Mr. Galloway, either. Once a struggling writer submitting to science fiction fanzines, he now runs a little-known million-dollar placement business called Re-Creative, Inc., that helps writers be productive and earn cash while writing. Most of these writers work in the SF, Fantasy, or Horror fields, areas that are dear to Galloway's heart.

"I figured that most writers, genre fiction writers especially, don't have the sense God gave a chicken knuckle," Galloway said when interviewed in his luxurious Tucson home. "I thought I'd help them out a little bit, knowing how difficult it is."

Writers must apply to Re-Creative using a lengthy 20-page form that includes sections on their flexibility, sense of pride, manual dexterity, sense of smell, and other topics you might not see on your average job application. Those accepted are then matched up with part-time and temporary positions around the country. Many of these positions are not what you'd find in your average newspaper.

"We placed this funny-looking writer named Howard Waldrop at a strip joint in Des Moines for a little while," Galloway said. "He was supposed to be a living hearing aid for a deaf bouncer, but it didn't work out. Waldrop tends to hear what he wants to hear."

In Waldrop's case, Galloway eventually had to place him with a billionaire's family as a nanny, considered a cushy assignment despite the frilly apron.

"I'm not saying that it's gonna to be easy," Galloway said. "But, heck, it's not as tough as writing. Michael Swanwick was really grateful that we got him a mascot gig with the Houston Heffers," a semi-pro lacrosse team.

Other clients include the team of James Patrick Kelly and Paul Di Filippo (Tongan-style masseuses/duckmasters), Hal Duncan (wastewater treatment plant rowboat operator), Elizabeth Bear (ninja double/dog breath sniffer), Catherynne Valente (egg smeller/brawling drunkard), Thomas Ligotti (slaughterhouse brain picker), and Ursula K. LeGuin (chicken sexer/cowpuncher).

"I fuckin love this fuckin job," Duncan said over the phone. "When my publisher is late with a check, I just get in me wee fuckine rowboat and pretend I'm a captain sailin' over a fuckin sea a' fuckin shit. Inferno, man. Inferno."

Galloway has even found work for such preeminently unemployable types as Jay Lake. Lake has been placed by Galloway forty times over the past twelve months, including short stints as business suit designer, ostrich babysitter, and hiccup preventer.

"Of course, it's different with Lake," Galloway said, "because he's already on work-release."

This is perhaps Galloway's greatest service to society: making sure the many genre writers returning from prison get jobs and don't return to a life of crime.

"It just makes me feel good," Galloway said, "seeing Gene Wolfe or Tom Disch do something useful for a change, like juggle flaming batons at a circus sideshow."

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