Monday, August 29, 2011

does it ever get easier to call yourself a writer?

I got my first payment for something I'd written almost thirty years ago. It didn't involve a lot of dollars but I remember thinking at the time, 'Oh-KAY! Now I'm a REAL writer.' If I'd thought about it, I guess I would have assumed that I would never again have that horrible experience of not knowing what to say when someone asked me what I did. Like so:
People at parties:   Pleased to meet you! And what do you DO?
Me:                        I'm a ... well ... I work in a deli actually. 
People at Parties:  Oh, how utterly fascination, darling!
Me:                        (desperately) But I'm also ... well... I'm PRIMARILY ...  a writer. 
People at Parties:  A writer! Well! Now I'm really utterly fascination! Before I was pretending. 
Me:                        That's fine. 
People at Parties:  (intimately, leaning in) Have you written anything I'd recognise? 
Me:                        Um. (long pause) No. Probably not. 
People at parties:  (leaning out again) So, do you have good kabanas at your deli? 
Me:                         (double desperate) My short film did play on SBS three times. Very late at night. 
People at Parties:  What about your fish? Which market do they come from?

Since then, I have at times, made a living from writing. Yes, they were short periods of time and it certainly was not a grand living - nevertheless, there were no sneaky bar-maid gigs, no black-ops in retail. I have two books published by well-known publishing houses and one self-published. I edit and I ghost-write. I do web copy. Nevertheless, I still find it just as hard as Simon Keck does to reply unselfconsciously to that awful question, 'So, what do you do?' 
From Simon's blog:
The volunteer at the box office flashed me the usual puzzled expression I receive when I tell people my surname.
“Keck? That can’t be right.”
“So it’s not on the list?”
“No, I mean it doesn’t sound right. Is it a real word?”
“No, it’s a real name."
“Oh… Is it like your nom de plume?”
"Just the nom really”

Honestly, this is just gorgeous. Simon Keck is definitely a Real Writer.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post Christine!

    I think one day you will just surprise yourself by saying...
    "Oh Im a writer, what do you do?"

    All in good time. =)