Though novelists who are also doctors (Chekhov, Maugham, Vincent Lam) get the most attention, there have been a few creative writers who have occupied lofty positions in the business world, too. Criminally underrated novelist Henry Green, for example, owned and ran a factory.
Aaannnd, that’s about all we can think of right now. (Feel free to suggest others in the comments.)
The Globe and Mail does bring to light a much more contemporary example of a writer-executive: Anne Giardini, author of Advice for Italian Boys, and, as of last fall, president of Weyerhaeuser Co..
From the Globe Q&A with Giardini:
Are you a weekend writer?
Do you write in hotel rooms?
And airplanes. First, I catch up on whatever reading I have, and then my reward is to do a bit of writing.
Is there something about you that likes precision – in law and in prose?
I think that’s true, and the two careers reinforce each other. I’ve always believed that language in the wrong hands can be dangerous, and it’s a powerful tool both for law and for creative writing.
Will you eventually move into full-time writing?
I think I would hate that. What would worry me is the tyranny of the empty page. I can ignore that now because I’m busy at work. I really believe I do my best writing when I’m working on other things – so that when I come to write, I’ve worked a lot of it through. I have what I want to say fully formed. It more or less cooks on the back burner.
Your mother must have been proud to see a child become a writer.
I would think. Sadly, she died before my first book came out, but I think she felt confident there would be one.
NB: That last question is not a complete non sequitur – Giardini’s mother was the late Carol Shields.