Writers come in all shapes and sizes and of every persuasion one can imagine. We, each of us, have our own reasons for writing too. Some absolutely must. Some are drive by little voices in their heads. Others do it for pleasure or to enable themselves to examine their thoughts objectively. Still others do it because they somehow discovered they were good at it and just decided it might be fun.
Beyond mastering format and developing skill with whatever natural skill or talent a writer has – I believe a writer’s biggest challenge is how to best handle that ‘deer in the headlights’ look that they get from others when they say, “I’m a writer,” in response to the question – “What do you do?” Apparently, the average person can’t quite compute this answer if they do not recognize your name, or haven’t seen a title of yours on Oprah’s bookclub list. The look too, begs further explanation because well, you just don’t want that person wandering off in confusion and possibly into traffic. There seems no good and simple way to answer the question though and you are often forced to stand there for several minutes trying to explain to the person (who is often a stranger) that being a writer doesn’t necessarily mean that you are James Patterson or Dr. Phil and at the same time that you are not, does not lessen your status as “Writer” by not being so.
Typically, this is an exercise in futility as truly unless they are a writer, perhaps the average person is not destined to understand. It may just be easier to say that you are a consultant or life coach because Oprah has had plenty of them on her show and they can quickly find an appropriate image based on their rapt veiwership.
Don’t even bother trying to explain it to your friends or family because in the back of their mind, they are simply hoping it’s a phase you are going through and that you will soon realize you need to get ‘serious’ and find a ‘real job’ or career and give up on all this silly making up stuff.
However, I must say I really like being a writer. I honestly can’t imagine being anything else – partly because I don’t want to imagine it and partly because I have been other things and frankly, they just aren’t that much fun. Though if I were to specify why I like being a writer I’d have to say the following gives a good idea:
1. Being a writer enables me to justify my inner child. A child that is often stubborn, tunnel-visioned and readily throws temper tantrums.
2. Being a writer doesn’t not prevent me from waiting tables or selling encyclopedias or any other activity in which I can actually make some money.
3. It’s nice to pass the time while waiting in line at Starbuck’s, listening to a strangers great idea for a book which they are happily offering to you for free.
4. It instantly explains my weird and bizarre behavior.
5. I can have children without ever having to change a diaper, have a husband without having to do his laundry and have a career in any field I can imagine that I would never be offered in the real world.
6. My compulsion to make things up is looked upon as a talent, rather than just lying.
7. Ideally, I would never have to leave my computer and conquer the outside world if I didn’t want to – nor would I ever have to wear anything other than pajamas (unless of course, Oprah booked me on her show, in which case, I’d buy a dress or something).
8. All the witty reparte and searing sarcasm I never uttered in real life are not wasted.
9. I can use a secret identity or even several, as pen names are encouraged – so that I don’t particularly don’t like my real name, I can make up a fake one that sounds really cool.
10. It’s looks really bitchin’ on business cards to just have your name (large and in flourishing font) with just your phone number and “Writer”
So…why do you like being a writer?