Small mental-health tip: Never offer the information that you are a writer.
I have learned to tell strangers at bus stops or family parties that I am a webmaster, or, if I really want to hear them talk, I say Iâ€™m a teacher (not a professor). â€œTeacherâ€ elicits all sorts of commentary and memories, plus the â€œGuess What I Teachâ€ game. Everyone always guesses right: Iâ€™m an English teacher. I fail to see what is wrong with looking like one.
But when you tell a stranger, â€œIâ€™m a writer,â€ you'll get frosted or flummoxed by one of these:
- â€œA writer, eh? Ya know, my life could be a book. Whoo-ee! Iâ€™ll tell it to you and you can write it.â€
- â€œWhat do you write?â€ (Disappointment or disapproval will follow regardless of your answer)
- â€œHave you ever heard of this book called (Dune, Twilight, The Lovely Bones, Ball Four)?â€
- â€œHave you published anywhere I might have read it?â€
- â€œSo you get to sit home all day and write.â€
- â€œMy daughter writes poetry. It helps so much with her depression.â€
I once told a talented but unschooled writer (think Chuck Palahniuk), unemployed for two years, that Human Resources staffs were likely giving him the bumâ€™s rush because he just had to say in his cover letter, â€œBut what I really am is a writer.â€ Might as well say, â€œIâ€™m a leper.â€