B is for Bitch please, I’m a writer!

Whenever people ask me what I do, I find myself hesitating and mumbling in the general direction of my feet. Granted this is how I answer most questions if approached by a stranger/friend/close relative, but this is a different shoe-gazing mumble. It’s not a ‘oh my god, someone is talking to me, activate panic mode’ kind of situation, it’s more of a ‘fuck, I hate my life, I’m not grown up enough to answer this question’ kind of deal.

How the hell am I supposed to answer that question? Structural Technician? Writer? Daydreamer? ‘What do you do?’ is such an arbitrary question. You may as well ask what shoe size a person is, or how frequently they visit the loo for numbers two’s. My job defines me about as much as my size nine feet or healthy daily bowel movements. To be honest I don’t even like my job – but I don’t think I’m alone there.

So should I tell people I’m a writer? I feel like a fraud before the words have even passed my lips. I write, but does that make me a writer? *jumps at the resounding shout of YES* But in that case I’m also an artist, a chef, a games tester, and a professional pooper. Just because I do something on a daily basis does not mean it defines me.

Ask someone what they do for a living and they’ll probably glaze over and search their memory banks for an automated response.

***work query initialised--protocol fuckfuckfuck activated--listing available responses***
*Well it pays the bills, doesn't it?*
*We're not so busy at the moment, what about you?*
*Another day, another dollar*
*I wish I'd gone into lap dancing*
***Selecting response most likely to terminate conversation***

I think a better question is “What excites you?”. Ask me that and I’ll most likely talk their ear off. The anxiety force field lifts and allows me to spread my wings and fly around the room like an excited budgerigar someone forgot to lock back in its cage. Of course that comparison also works with me depositing useless bits of crap along the way and annoying the hell out of my captive audience with high-pitched shrieks and squawks.

But look at me soar!

Look at that grin!

Look at my mood lift when I don’t have to talk about the 9-5 grind, work loads, waiting for the weekend, pay day dream nonsense.

You want to know what defines me and you ask me what I do for a living?

Bitch please, I’m a writer!

Me with Emma Audsley, Ramsey Campbell, Joe Hill, Marie O'Regan and Paul Kane - you don't get these guys around the office water cooler!

Me with Emma Audsley, Ramsey Campbell, Joe Hill, Marie O’Regan. Paul Kane – you don’t get these guys around the office water cooler.


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  1. I like the way you’ve tagged this professional pooper.I think that being a writer isn’t when you have a piece of work published or when you’ve finished writing your first piece. I think it’s when you’re writing constantly and producing work even if nothing happens to it.

    1. I figured, knowing me, I’d probably end up using the same phrase in another post so I might as well make it a tag now 😛

      I like the fact you said ‘producing work’ rather than ‘producing work you love’, because I think another part of being able to call yourself a writer is always wanting to improve. You can always look back on a piece and say “Ack – I wrote that! Hand me my biggest red pen”. Of course you’ll like your work but you have to find that balance between confidence and cockiness.

  2. I answer everything like an excited budgerigar. Can’t imagine why… must try to be more careful and considered.

    Yrs, Excited Budgerigar. http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com

  3. Do people at work know you’re a writer? Mine ask me when’s it published? It’s a whole lot of bigger than writing, ‘The End.’ Lol.

    1. A couple do but they don’t really care 😛 It’s amazing how little interest people can show even though they assume you’re published and raking it in!

    • Stephanie Scott on April 2, 2014 at 16:30
    • Reply

    I answer similarly. My day job is X. What I love to do, is write. If they are interested, I go on. People have the funniest questions on writing, I’m never not surprised.

    1. I’ve had some absolute corkers! And the amount of times people try and tell me I’m wrong when I explain something…beggars belief.

  4. I love it!.. I so relate to the hesitation, the frantically searching for the quickest answer to terminate the questioning!

    1. The hesitation also ties in with my fear of any and all small talk *shudder*

      1. Lol, I know what you mean… nothing worse than having to attend a function and know it is coming. I usually search the room for the one person that is kind of alone, lock eyes on and know I can find some connection with. I shudder at mingling… ugh!

        1. In terms of like, instant relief, canceling plans is like heroin. – John Mulaney

          1. .. and a habit that I am very good at also!

          2. It’s an easy one to pick up and hard one to shake.

  5. I tell people I am a displaced princess. Or that I am a writer that does psychotherapy as a hobby. Or I throw the whole maghillah at them. I write, clown, counsel, photograph, conduct weddings or funerals,cook and train upper management in how to be humans. What you only have one job!?

    1. Next time someone asks I’m saying ‘life giver, soul destroyer, grand creator of conflict’. In fact I’m going to get some business cards printed.

  6. I love the title! And I totally feel your pain! I find that many can be a little disbelieving when I drop what I do for a living at their feet. Then I always think to myself: “Why ask if you really didn’t want to know….”

    1. Probably because they want you to say something boring so they can brag about how great their job is in comparison.

  7. Before you answer the question, dress the part. I suggest a flamboyant silk housecoat, loosely belted, a pair of tartan slippers (with pom poms) and a slim brown cigarette in a holder. Then, all you need to do is flick your head, take a deep pull of your ciggie and ooze the words, ‘I…’ (pause for effect) ‘…am a writer, dahling.’

    Of course, if you want to be a professional pooper, then different attire would be appropriate. I’ll leave you to decide…

    1. They do say the best job is the job you love doing, and I do enjoy a good porcelain throne session.

      1. Yes, I do recall a recent photo… *shudders*
        I hope you multi-task and take a pen in with you. Presumably you have plenty of paper.

        1. And if I get stuck, I’ll have a pencil to work it out…work out my writing problems that is *cough*

    • Shelley Batt on April 3, 2014 at 20:15
    • Reply

    Great post! You are a writer when writing’s in your heart. Good luck.

    1. Thank you, Shelley 🙂

  8. Bitch, please! Most people I know laugh when I say I’m a writer. Or, as with my family, look at me as if I’m totally mad. Funny that they all say, don’t forget us when your rich and famous.

    1. I’m ditching everyone I know when I’m rich and famous, you included, and getting me some fancy shmancy friends!

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