Inside the “Diary of a Fast Food Worker” By Monica Stark
Set in the mid 1980s, “Dairy of a Fast Food Worker” a new memoir available at local bookstores follows diary entries of Pocket resident Kathey Norton who details her life as a young writer working in the fast food industry, and her struggle to remain creative while dealing with a soulcrushing boss, an ever-changing cast of co-workers, the drama of an atypical first romance, and the frustration and self-doubt that haunt her. Kathey has written five books, published three, has one waiting to be published, and a few in various stages of completion. For Diary of a Fast Food Worker, Kathey painstakingly went through all of her diaries from 19851989 to find journal entries and photos that captured a snapshot in time. In an interview with the Pocket News, she said reading some of the entries made her angry. “I was mad at myself for not being more brave to start that band I wanted to and take more chances during that time in my life. Reading the diary passages where I began to suspect my mom was getting Alzheimer’s took me right back to that place of fear
“It was a bit overwhelming having all of that daily interaction with people, but I got to know my coworkers and learned their stories about how they ended up in the fast food industry.” –Kathy Norton and selfishly wondering how her Alzheimer’s would affect my ability to accomplish all of my goals and dreams.” Kathey did find out from putting this book together that even though these experiences were far in the past, she still thinks like that 19year-old girl who had huge dreams and who wasn’t afraid to question authority and be a rebel or an advocate for others. “And, I’m proud of that,” she said. “Writing the book was also very poignant since I met some very good friends out of that fast food experience and they changed my life in profound ways, but their own lives did not turn out so well.” In an effort to bring awareness to the fact that even out
Pocket News • March 3, 2017 • www.valcomnews.com
of what we perceive as bad experiences, we learn lessons and become stronger, Kathey hopes readers get the following message: Life may not turn out exactly the way we plan, but it doesn’t mean that just because you reach a certain age that your life stops. “You can always reconnect with those things that you were passionate about before you became a responsible adult, got married, or had kids. I think if you don’t have personal goals or dreams for yourself, then you are merely existing but not living. By writing Diary of a Fast Food Worker, I was able to see what I overcame to get where I am now, and understand what I still hope to accomplish with the rest of my life.” A young adult in Sacramento in the mid-80s was tough, Kathey recalls, noting, “There were not a lot of good jobs for kids coming out of high school, unless you wanted to work for the state, which I rebelled against doing at the time since I felt it would be the death of me and my creativity. I was able to get a job in a fast food restaurant and it was an eye-opening experience for a shy young writer who spent all her time in her room and didn’t socialize with kids my age. It was a bit overwhelming having all of that daily interaction with people, but I got to know my co-workers and learned their stories about how they ended up in the fast food industry.” Kathey began writing at age 17, a very shy kid with aspirations to become a singer and musician in a band. With incredible stage fright coupled with a lack of confidence to pursue that, she started writing since it was something that provided her with a cre-
ative outlet to live out fantasies through her characters. She published her first article at age 21 called “Reflection on Rejection,” a subject she knew a lot about, and she published a number of poems. “I really wanted to write screenplays instead of novels, but wasn’t sure at the time how to write a screenplay, so I wrote each novel as if I were directing a movie in my head. I could visualize each scene and the music I wanted to use,” she said. By the time she was 23, she had written five novels, but since they didn’t fit a specific genre she struggled with getting them published. Also, when she was 23, her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Kathey became her caregiver for 11 years. She tried to keep writing in between working full-time, attending college, and caring for her, but all she could manage to write during that time was poetry. She didn’t start writing again until 2010. Kathey submitted to traditional publishers and agents,
but noticed that the publishing industry had completely changed and that indie writers were taking control of their careers, using social media as a way to promote their books, and basically not waiting around for validation from traditional publishers. “I saw this as a revolution that I wanted to be a part of,” she said. “I decided to dust off four of the novels that I had written when I was younger, re-edit, and work to publish them myself. I liked the fact that I could control when I would release a book (most traditionally published books take a year or more to come out), that I was able to achieve wide distribution for my books, and I could handle my own marketing, something I enjoyed doing anyway.” Working in a fast food restaurant was an eye-opening experience for a shy young writer who spent all her time in her room and didn’t socialize with kids her age. “It was a bit overwhelming having all of that daily interaction with See Author, page 9 Valley Community Newspapers, Inc.