The answers to these are: My job is writing, no I’m not a journalist, and it means I spend hours on end staring at blank word documents willing something magical to happen while consuming unhealthy amounts of caffeine.
I’ve talked to other writers who have said they’ve had similar experiences. And while I get that being a writer could mean most things, if someone introduces themselves as a doctor, do they get asked what their real job is? Hint: probably not. So why does it happen to writers?
It actually took me a really long time to say “I’m a writer” and not “I want to be a writer”. I always thought that I couldn’t really say I was a writer until I actually had something published. I used to hear people say stuff like this, like how you can’t say you’re a doctor just cause you’re in medical school. But that’s not quite the same thing.
I write. It’s what I do. It’s what I’ve always done and what I will always do. I’ll probably die with a pen in my hand and an unfinished story in my head.
I call myself a writer because that’s what I am. What is my real job? Writing. My real job is writing. I’m not published yet, but one day I will be. Then, when those people ask me what I do for a living, I can very proudly call myself an author (this is probably a word that will invite less questions than writer).
So when you tell someone you’re a writer and they ask what your real job is, bear with them. Rage internally, but just smile and nod and explain to them what it is you do. Believe me, I know how frustrating it can be to not have your job taken seriously, but just imagine the looks on their faces when one day you’re published, whether it’s a book or a magazine or whatever it is you want to do. Imagine that look and you’re golden.
Now, by the off chance you’re reading this and you’re not a writer, here are some things NOT to say to a creative writer.
Have you had a similar conversation with someone? What did you say to them?