I’ve written before about identifying myself as a writer, how it didn’t come naturally at first, and how I used to always feel compelled to qualify it in some way. I’ve come a long way in that regard and, while it still isn’t totally habitual, I usually remember to answer “writer” when asked what I do.
This always leads to interesting conversations; two of the most common of which occurred this past weekend at a fancy Paris-themed event at the art museum. (Hence my picture in front of the Eiffel Tower, above.) Here’s how they go:
The Day Job Conversation
Curious Party Go-er: Like a freelance writer?
Me: I write some guest blog posts occasionally and have my own blog, but primarily I write novels. They’re lighthearted women’s fiction– think beach reads.
CPG: Oh I love those books! I’ll have to get your contact information, my book club loves to read local authors.
Me: That would be great! I’d be happy to come to your book club meeting, I’ll even bring beer.
CPG: That would be so fun!
Me: (pulls out business card and hands it to her)
CPG: So do you have a day job?
Now, Curious Party Go-er is just that, curious. No harm meant in this question at all. The bigger issue here is the social construct that you can’t make a living from “just” your art. It’s an especially interesting sentiment when it’s juxtaposed against the backdrop of an arts gala.
The I’ve Always Wanted to Write a Book But… Conversation
Always Wanted to Write, But: Wow, you’re a writer. I’ve always thought about writing a book. Just never sat down to do it. How did you get started?
Me: I took a short class on fiction writing at a local arts center.
AWTWB: Oh! I’ve never looked at their writing classes.
Me: I highly recommend it. It really helped motivate me to get started. I got some great feedback from the instructors and other students.
AWTWB: I’ll have to look into it, it’s so hard to find the time. Maybe when I retire.
Always Wanted to Write is correct– it is so hard to find the time. It was back when I took that class, it is now. It always will be. Who’s to say that you’ll magically have all the time in the world when you retire, or when the kids go back to school, or when things slow down at work. You’re never going to find the time, but if it’s truly important please, I implore you– make the time for your art. Day job and all.
4 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Conversations”
I use a calendar to make sure I fit all the writerly things into my life. It’s a scribbly mess, but the calendar includes a.) my blog postings, b.) my career goals as a writer, and c.) ways to connect with my audience (i.e. platform-building goals).
Incidentally, I saw your #MondayBlog on Twitter, and that’s what led me here. (Writers always like to know which platform-building tools are working, so there’s a little feedback for you.) I shall follow you on Twitter and add you to my “Writers” list! I like the format of your blog and look forward to reading other posts. 🙂
Yes! I use a calendar too, and by the end of each year it looks totally well-worn and loved (which is to say, beat up). I also keep all those things in it. I specifically have to by a calendar with lots of note pages in the back.
Thank you for letting me know how you found me, you’re right — always curious.
The ‘I’ve always wanted to write’ person is my favourite. It was me once. And then I heard someone say, you’ll do it when your pain is big enough. Sure enough, I realised I wanted it more than watching supernatural, or some other show on TV. You’ve either got that intolerable pain level or you don’t. I now say to those people, you’ll write it when you want it bad enough. P.S. Love your podcast.
Yes! I love that and completely agree. You will write it when you have to write it, when it won’t let you go. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. Also, so glad to know you enjoy First Draught- we have so much fun putting them together! Happy writing.