Wednesday, May 30, 2007

And what do YOU do?

I’m blogging remotely from a campground about two hours from home where the DH and I have a little getaway trailer. It’s a reward to ourselves for the years of raising two boys, all the parent-teacher conferences, Little League games, scout meeting, braces, ungodly auto insurance premiums that go along with two boys, college tuition and all the other expenses parents face. Now that we no longer have those expenses, we have some extra money to (1) dote on the grandbaby and (2) dote on ourselves. The campground falls under number 2. And this week I’m doting on me. I decided if I had internet access I could take care of business from here and well… here I am.

There’s a regular gang that visits this campground along with folks who happen upon it in their travels. We have standing Friday and Saturday night card games, shuffleboard tournaments, darts, volleyball, tennis and my favorite, the pool. My husband is a die-hard volleyball player and frequently captains competitive teams. I, on the other hand, tell folks that I’m captain of the suntanning team, a position I take quite seriously including my bottle of SPF30 face block and SPF15 body block.

In the course of conversations with both regulars and new folks, the topic of occupation regularly arises. And when asked, I tell folks that I’m a writer.

Them: Oh. What do you write?

Me: I write romance.

Them: Oh. Are you published?

Me: Not in book length, but I’ve sold some short stories to magazines.

Them: How do you know what to write about?

Me: I get ideas from all around me. I read newspaper articles or articles online and an idea will spark. I hear a snippet of conversation or see something on a blog and I ask myself, “What if?”

Them: *snicker and a sidelong glance at my husband* Do you use him for ideas?

Me: No, he’s too boring. But his wacky family is a hotbed of ideas.

Husband shoots me a dirty look at this point, but he knows it’s true. About his family, that is.

Them: How much money do you make?

Me: None of your damned business.

Actually, I don’t say that last part but I’d like to. I don’t ask them how much they make. They don’t ask any of the other people how much money they make, but my income is apparently intriguing and open for discussion.

Me: You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.

Them: Do you know Stephen King?

Me: No.

Them: Do you know the guy who wrote the book… you know, the one that was a movie with Matt Damon? He played a spy or something. Uh, something about identity.

Me: The Bourne Identity?

Them: Yeah. Do you know that guy?

Me: No, I don’t know him.

Them: Well do you know Jackie Collins?

Me: No.

Them: Do you know Danielle Steele?

At this point, I begin to sense a pattern and decide to stop it in its tracks.

Me: No, but I met Nora Roberts once.

Them: REALLY?????????

Me: Yes. We attend the same writers’ conference each summer.

Them: I’d like to write a book. It doesn’t look like it could be that hard.

By this time I’ve pasted a smile on my face that’s as fake as Pamela Anderson’s bosom.

Them: I feel like I have a book inside me just waiting to get out. If I tell you my idea can you help me write it and get it published.

Me: *sigh* You really should write it yourself because it’s YOUR story to tell and it should reflect your voice.

Them: Voice? But this is a book, not a tape.

Me: *deeper sigh* Voice is how your personality comes across in your writing. Everyone’s is different..

Them: Oh. Well, if I write it in my voice can you help me get it published?

Me: I’m sorry, but I don’t have an inside track to publishing. You just have to submit and wait with the rest.

Them: Oh. And what do YOU do?
they ask the next person.

Him: I’m a doctor.

Them: Oh. I have this place on my foot that’s been bothering me…

It’s different being a writer, isn’t it? And I suppose I ought to get back to being a writer and write since I don’t have a phone ringing and the usual household distractions.

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Smarty Pants said...

At this point, I still hide behind my day job. I won't have to deal with all this until it's all I do and then maybe, hopefully, I can distract them with the glories of my publications. Or at least bore them enough that they move on to the doctor.

Instigator said...

Hey, I've had this conversation. :-)

I've been hiding behind my day job too...but that just isn't very intersting so I've started telling people I'm a writer. It's rather amusing to watch the differing reactions. Fodder for the creative well ;-D


Jen said...

LOL, PM, the questions pretty much never change. Your campground sounds like fun.

Angel said...

These conversations were so hard for me at first, but now I just go with the flow. I'm stocking up on vague answers :), especially on the salary issue. What is it about writers that make people so nosy about that?

And if it was easy to write and publish a book, everyone would do it...

Kathy said...

I've only recently started responding that I'm a writer. I think this has helped me respect myself and my goals rather than just saying I'm a stay-at-home Mom. (On rare occasions I get to stay at home.)

Your little hideaway sounds like great fun, PM! Enjoy! You've earned it.


Lynn Raye Harris said...

I hate this question. I don't want to tell them I'm a writer for precisely the reasons you just named, but I also don't have a day job to hide behind. And I don't have kids, so when people discover I just stay home all day, they think I'm some kind of lazy, bon bon eating, soap watching twit and that my husband must be crazy for not making me get a job. I used to be able to say I was working on a master's degree, but I finished that last summer. I haven't encountered the question lately, but I sure cringe when I do. I hate explaining how you don't just send in a book and get published, that it can take a long time, that just because your cousin has a book out with Publish America doesn't make him a more successful writer than I am, etc.

The best ever though was when my mother-in-law emailed me all excitedly to tell me that my husband's 8 yr-old niece was having a poem published in a school anthology and that it was so exciting to have two writers in the family. If the kid really wanted to be a writer, that would be different. But she doesn't. It's just a school project where they make you write stuff in English class and then pick something from every kid.

Or, when my FIL read the Aloha Romance Writers anthology I gave him and the short story before mine is a piece of erotica and he asked me if the woman who wrote it had secret fantasies like that because how could she possibly imagine such a thing unless it was something she wanted to do. Oh boy, I couldn't wait for him to read mine after that! Thankfully, it wasn't erotica, but who knows what he decided about me.

I feel like Rodney Dangerfield sometimes: "I tell ya, I get no respect." :)

When family just doesn't get it, how in the heck will the rest of the world understand?

Problem Child said...

I've just quit talking to people.

It's much easier that way. :-)

Smarty Pants said...

I think I will resolve to associate solely with other authors. I don't have to explain any of my weirdness to them. We can plan to kill someone in a Krispy Kreme at 10PM on a Saturday night and they don't bat an eye. When I say my characters aren't doing something I want them to do, they nod sympathetically instead of looking at me like I've lost touch with reality. Its just easier this way, I think.