English translation: poor bread-and-butter writing
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Explanation: Something you do for your bread and butter isn't necessarily what you really want to do.
Another alternative: mediocre bread-and-butter writing
The bread-and-butter writing is important to him, but it keeps him from literary work.
He had many jobs to do with writing, like journalism, editing, radio, TV and plays for children theatre troupes. He calls these experiences his "bread-and-butter writing" Since he has retired, he can write what he really wants to write.