That’s the one question I get asked at least once, every single week of the year. Telling someone you’re a writer would seem like such an easy thing to say but you soon realise there’s actually two responses that always come back.
What have you written?
How d’you make that work?
It’s fair enough, I mean, if someone was a Doctor then I’d ask, ‘who have you saved?’ Or a plumber, I’d ask, ‘sinks or toilets?’ Oh no wait, I don’t ask those questions because most jobs bore the pants off of me. There is actually a reason why people ask these questions.
They want to see if they could do it. Writing is a funny profession. Most people can read and write already, they learn it at school, so what else is there to learn? Also, it sounds like an easy life, so it immediately annoys people when they hear of someone else doing something that they’d love to be able to do, if only they had the balls to quit their boring office job. Although, people will never own up to this.
The reality is obviously very different to most people’s perception of it. In today’s environment you have to be part writer/ part entrepreneur but they won’t really understand that, I’m working longer hours than I used to but again they’ll laugh at that incredulously, and there’s a fair amount of stress involved in accepting that payment will come at some point in an uncertain future but they’ll only smile sagely at this.
The thing is, just saying you’re a writer is actually a bigger step than these people realise. You know you’ll get these questions every time you say it, so if you’re slightly shaky about the answers then there’s no way you’re going to volunteer the information. If you’re a writer then you know how vulnerable and exposed you feel. Only by being a best-selling author, who lives in a house with a book-shaped swimming pool, will you be able to proudly announce your occupation.
Assuming you don’t live there, you’re going to have to answers these questions. I’ve worked out my patter now so that it just rolls off the tongue, which makes it sound like I’m in control and the same people don’t ask for more detail. (They don’t want to hear that you’ve got it under control, they’ll only keep the discussion going if you show a flaw in your thinking.) Here are some bullet points to remember to mention:
- Long-Term Goal
- It’s about volume
- Mention your genre
- Mention success stories within said genre
- Legacy of books in 3-5 years time
- 70% royalties
- Drop in a bit about freedom
- eBook reading habits
- It’s going well so far
All of these will leave them in the corner looking around for any kind of change of subject available.
Have you ever come across these types of people, or is it just me?