A Portrait of a Writer - A Profile of Cynthia Morgan
Date of Birth: 6/10/47
Interests: Writing, cooking, gardening, swimming, and reading.
Quote: "The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill
one's heart. We must imagine Sisyphus happy." Camus
Cynthia's taking a writing break, away from her computer!
When Cynthia Morgan was a child, she certainly didn't think she would
be a caretaker when she grew up.
After graduating from college, Cynthia wanted to try her wings at novel
writing before getting involved with a teaching career. The question was,
what could she do to earn a living while writing her book? "I figured
I needed something to tide me over for only a year or two that wouldn't
force me to work an eight-hour day. I walked over to the employment office
at San Jose State University where I discovered a job I'd never thought
about, a not-so-highbrow caretaking position.
Although the wages were low, $300 a month, this job also offered living
quarters. It doesn't take much to get by if you don't have to pay rent
or house payments. So I went for an interview and that was the day that
altered the course of my life.
I was lucky for two reasons: I stumbled upon a Garden of Eden to caretake
and there was no competition for this kind of work. While my friends went
on to legitimate careers, I turned into a country girl, and life became
Cynthia's first caretaking job was working for a wine family housecleaning,
chauffeuring and cooking. For this work she received her own cottage smack
dab in the middle of the vineyard. There was an extensive rose garden
beside the cottage, planted by the wine maker of previous years.
On the other side of the cottage, under two giant Eucalyptus trees, there
was a fenced-in 'barnyard' for chickens and rabbits. All the grapes she
could eat were free for the picking. "I couldn't have bought this kind
of environment on a teacher's salary. Which reminds me, with my first
paycheck I had enough left over to buy six chickens, four geese, three
rabbits and a partridge in a pear tree.
Ha ha - just kidding. And an electric typewriter." That was twenty years
ago and Cynthia is still friends with the winery owners today. The typewriter,
however, has faded out of the picture and has been replaced by a computer.
Cynthia has certainly found the right niche for herself. The artist's
complaint has always been that there isn't enough time or energy to create
because one has to also earn a living. After a full day in an office or
factory, the last thing one wants to do is sit down and compose a symphony,
paint a picture or write a book.
Not to mention the importance of focus. It can be hard to concentrate
on a project when one is being infiltrated with data from another job.
Cynthia has been able to pursue her craft because of her caretaking jobs.
In addition to her vineyard caretaking, she has lived in a cabin in the
mountains, a cottage on a small ranch, a mansion and had her own house
at a resort.
The resort position was in Big Sur, located along the river. There were
two small cabins, each with their own hot tub to tend. Being the only
person working the resort, Cynthia was responsible for making phone reservations,
greeting guests and showing them to their cabins, cleaning the cabins,
laundry, banking, gardening and mowing the lawn that ran alongside the
Big Sur River.
She would get up at five a.m. and write until check-out time, which was
noon. By then she was ready for some physical labor, after being bent
over her computer all morning, and went to work cleaning the cabins and
doing the laundry. Check-in time was five p.m., so she had a couple of
hours for a break, which meant a drive down the road to the post office.
After that, she could take an hour's break for a cappuccino in the sun,
often with a fellow writer friend who was caretaking the Henry Miller
What an ideal situation for a writer! In fact, Cynthia says she can't
think of any drawbacks. "Caretaking can be a uniquely intimate job, however,
in that you live and work in your employer's home environment. The benefits
can be numerous once you've learned to walk the fine line respecting the
privacy and 'space' of your employer."
Cynthia's enjoyed the use of the swimming pools and hot tubs she's maintained
and the tennis courts she's swept. She's had a complimentary membership
to a country club, and driven a Mercedes, an Explorer, a Cadillac and
"Even the work itself is a benefit, as far as I'm concerned. After a
morning of writing, I get the kinks out running errands, grocery shopping,
cooking - and there are no interruptions so that I can think about the
book I'm working on, even as I'm working for someone else. I get to own
my own brain!
Yet the biggest benefit for me is TIME to write. And I've found that
the people I work for like the idea that I'm using my free time for writing
and not escaping off the property somewhere." Landowners know that, with
a writer caretaker, they have someone who will be there to watch over
the property. This makes a very amiable situation for both parties!
The California home where Cynthia is caretaking.
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