I never used to tell people that I was a writer. I know, I know. But here’s the thing. Once you tell people you’re a writer, you get the inevitable questions.
Person #1: “How’s the book coming?”
Me: “Still working on it.”
Person #1: “Oh.” (raises his/her eyebrows and walks away)
Person #2: “What have you published?”
Me: “Nothing yet.”
Person #2: “But you’ve been doing this for a year.”
Me: “Yup.” (more like thirty years)
Person #2: “Um – so, what else do you do?”
Me: (no point in continuing that conversation)
People don’t know what to say when you tell them you’re a writer. After all, it’s not like a real job where you get paid for working – a job that people can relate to, like a bank teller or a teacher or a Walmart greeter. When you say you’re a writer, they pause for a moment before they mumble some polite response that gives away their total ignorance of what it is you do.
I took an online writing course a number of years ago and connected with an instructor (whom I’ve never met, and can’t even remember her name) who set me straight on a few things. She encouraged me to start telling people I was a writer, even though I’d never published a single thing. She said I would sell myself short if I didn’t call myself a writer and start acting like one. She was right. From then on, despite the fact that I was in the middle of a very successful, non-writing-related career, I called myself a writer.
Now I write, I love what I do, and I make no excuses for it.