Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Question

Have you ever been prodded with a ‘So, what do you do for a living?’ (or an equivalent), and answered ‘I’m a writer’, upon which people, as if programmed to do so, immediately ask, ‘What have you published?’ (or its equivalent)
I can say that I hate it. In fact, I do the best I can to avoid telling people what I do, knowing that the question would eventually come, and I’d have to answer with the dreaded, ‘Nothing.’ (Yes, that’s right, I haven’t published anything as of yet. There, now you don’t have to ask me.)
Sure, this isn’t a problem for published authors, but even people who have published a few short stories have a similar problem. ‘Oh, I’ve published two stories in Clarkesworld Magazine and one in Apex,’ you say. ‘Clark’s world? Is that some kind of superman fan magazine?’
Unless you’ve published a novel (and I might even add, a bestseller or at least a famous book) or avoid people altogether, you’re going to land in a situation as pointed out above some or other time.
This problem comes from humans' general view of writing. They see it as a slack-off job and only measures success with bestsellers. How many times has someone told you to get a ‘real’ job? (If you’re writing full-time or studying)
Writing is what I love and that is what I do. Even though I haven’t published anything, I am still a writer, and I am proud to announce it to the world. (Okay, that last part is a bit of a stretch. I’m pretty sure I won’t go around telling people that I’m a writer that hasn’t published anything.*)
If you love writing and you want to write as a job, (since your only other options are doing something you hate or starving) ignore the people’s faces when you answer the dreaded question and what follows upon it, or just think up a fancy job title of a made-up job (it should be easy, you’re a writer after all).

Have you ever been asked the question? Is writing just a hobby, or your (planned) sole source of income?

*If I do publish something however, I would probably go and tell every person that I can find that I had recently published something and have just achieved the status of published author.

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