Sunday, September 11, 2011

So What Do You Do?

It's a fair question, and one that comes up often in the social world.

As writers, we're forced into an awkward corner when this inevitable moment comes. Some less than stellar snippets from BBC's life:

Person: So what do you do?
BBC: I'm a writer.
Person: Oh really? What have you written? Anything I'd know?
BBC: No, I'm not published yet.
Person: Okay, so you sorta just write on the side.
BBC: Uh... yeah, sure.
Person: Well good for you, it's nice to have a goal.
*awkward moment where we each stare at our drinks and then pretend to see someone we know*

Person #2: So what do you do?
BBC: I'm a writer *recalls former conversation* And a librarian.
Person #2: I've never been a reader.
*apparently this makes me a person of no consequence whatsoever to them*

Person #3: So what do you do?
BBC: I'm a writer and-
Person #3: *clutches BBC madly* OMG! Me TOO!!! We should totally get together sometime, I'd love to read your stuff, maybe we should meet in a coffeehouse, we can drink coffee and read and write together! That would be soooo much fun. I write erotic gay vampire epic poetry - what do you write?
BBC: Uh... I'm working on a non-fiction book about blue whales.

Person #4: So what do you do?
BBC: I kill people for money.

Anyway, you get the point, and we've all been there. Telling someone you're a writer means opening yourself up to the inevitable question of whether or not you are published. And somehow, not being published demotes your dream career to a hobby.

Being met with total disinterest is almost preferable to the OMG! response, depending on varying factors. I find myself more verbally capable of handling the non-reader as opposed to the overly-effusive fellow writer, who (in all honesty) may or may not suck. You never know. I could've just dissed the next James Joyce.

How do you answer the question?

7 comments:

Cassie Mae said...

I say I'm a mother and a writer. Occasionally I'll get asked if I'm published anywhere, and I'll say no, but more often I get asked, "How do you find the time to write with two young kids at home?" which is a question with many answers, but at least it doesn't make me uncomfortable.

Kathryn Elliott said...

I’m pulling out option 4 at the next PTO meeting: should go over well. Thanks for the giggle! And I totally understand where you are coming from.

efjace said...

LOL! 'Erotic Gay Vampire Epic Poetry' love it! Usually I just say I work at a call center heh. If someone asks me that I work with what I do in my spare time, I say I play video games and write. People down here and pretty self-absorbed honestly so that usually is all they need to go into 'oh my so-in-so writes and blah blah blabbity blah'. If I manage to get in anything about what I'm working on, I tend to keep it brief. I run into the over enthusiastic reader as much as I do the writer. And they all want to read it and I'm not too keen or just flopping my MS around willy-nilly y'know?

Rosalind Adam said...

I know EXACTLY what you mean. I dread having to say the 'w' word when people ask me what I do. The funniest response was one I got a few weeks ago. I said that I was a children's writer and the woman said, "What on earth do you want to do that for?!"

catwoods said...

Love this!

I, too, find option four appealing. However, you never know who could be sitting next to you on the plane or in the grocery store line.

The published question is always a bit tricky for me, as I've published short pieces for adults, but it is my juvenile lit I'm focused on. Usually, I just say, "Not in the juvenile arena yet."

Don't forget the yet. It adds validation--at least in our own minds!

hugs and best luck, Super Awesome Librarian Writer with a side hobby of murder

Mindy McGinnis said...

Cassie - good idea! I can just see what would happen if I tried that though: "I'm a mother and a writer." "Oh, OK, so what do you do with all your spare time?" *strangles someone*

Kathryn - Yes, it's the never-ending debate before I go out in public. What should I say today?

EF - that's true, you don't want to hand your brain baby to just anyone!

Rosalind - Wow! Yeah, that's a new one. It's like when I tell people I'm a librarian and they say, "Oh I'd love to sit and read all day." And I'm like, "Yeah... that's not quite what I do...."

Cat - I like the, "Not yet." You should follow it up with a deep throated, "But I will be... I WILL BE!"

Jemi Fraser said...

Those crack me up!! And this is why I haven't told people I write yet. Once I'm farther along on this path maybe! :)