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.