Writing Discussion

Do you tell people you are a writer?

The Remington Streamliner via the Typewriter Museum

When I was in university, my computer science classmates would say: “Oh, she’s the artist.” but my fine arts classmates would refer to me as: “Oh, she’s the programmer.” My family still still call me: “Oh, she’s the dancer.” and some of my friends think of me as: “Oh, she’s the crafty one.

For some reason, writer never made the list.

Very few people know that I am a writer. Even my dear E thinks this is just another phase. I have taken up numerous hobbies over the years, obsessed over them, and tired of them, but I’ve never thought of writing as a hobby. It has always simply been a part of who I am.

I don’t tell people I’m a writer. This has been on my mind for a while, and Ollin’s post had me wondering, why not?

Is it because of a lack of proof? I have not yet published anything to my name. All I have are files on my computer, and this website to show for it.

Is it because it’s not the answer people want to hear? Whenever someone asks me “What do you do.” I always answer with my day job. My day job does not define who I am, but it’s what is expected. Writing rarely comes up in conversation.

Is it fear? I’ve never been good at sharing things that mean a lot to me, and writing cuts close to the core. My dreams of going into a creative occupation were crushed early in life. I felt the pressure to do something sensible, and so I went into computers. My creative efforts were always questioned, and still are. I don’t mention writing to my family, because unless I have some success to show for it, I’m always made to feel like creativity is a waste of my time.

Do you tell people that you are a writer? Do you feel it’s important to?

22 Comments to “Do you tell people you are a writer?”

  1. We can write novel after novel, but until we have published multiple books, we will never be thought of as writers … just dreamers. Yet, we toil and sweat and hunch over the keyboard which belays the pie in the sky image “dreamer” gives.

    Sigh. One day the two of us will look back on these days, and we will yearn for the freedom of writing whatever strikes our fancy … not what the editors, agents, and publishers demand. Roland

    1. T.S. Bazelli Author

      I hope so Roland! Oh what a yearning to have. I would trade it for this one if I could, but the hard work has to come first eh?

      I suppose some people will always think of creative people as ‘dreamers’. It makes me feel sad that imagination is not always valued very highly by society.

  2. Well I think your Point #2 is the answer to your question: *you* don’t think of yourself as a writer.

    No one thought of me as such until *I* started thinking of myself as such. Because I had another job, a “real” job, that’s what I always started with when people asked, “What do you do?”

    Now I answer, “I’m a writer, and I work at a design firm to pay the bills.” Now people think I’m a writer with a day job, rather than a receptionist with a lofty hobby.

    1. T.S. Bazelli Author

      You know, that’s a great answer! I do think of myself as a writer, but that is the private me, not the public me. For some reason I still am hesitant to tell the world. Maybe I just need to be braver 🙂

  3. Oh man. What pains we writers have to go through to just be ourselves! It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who deals with the issue you address. But it makes me feel a little disheartened about the way people perceive us.

    Well, I consider you a writer of course! You have plenty of wonderful short stories on here that I enjoy reading, and you are very talented. I am already a fan and a reader of yours, and I’m probably not the only one. In a sense you are “published” because many people get to read your work and comment. Sure you don’t make money off of it right now but you will soon.

    What I’m trying to say is that by standards you are a writer! And a great one at that!

    Keep writing! 🙂

    1. Thank you for the encouragement Ollin! I think we writers can be an insecure bunch even at the best of times. No worries, nothing can stop me from writing. It’s the one thing I always come back to no matter what. 🙂

  4. Lua

    I’m still working to get rid of my ‘lawyer’ label. I tell people that I am a writer when and if they ask. They tell me, “oh that’s your hobby?” I tell them “no, that’s my occupation.” And get “the look” 🙂
    I’m slowly getting used to it though, telling people that I am a ‘writer’ and I hope in time they will too.

  5. Yeah, similar problem – except I’ve always thought of myself as a writer – and if anybody gets the chance to know me in real life, it won’t take long for them to discover this fact about me. I don’t keep it a secret, and for the most part I never have.

    In “polite” company, though, it may not be the first thing I share about myself. It depends on the context. If it’s just people I’m meeting as though they should be friends, I’ll come around to talking about my writing sooner rather than later. If it’s something in a “professional” context, I’ll be a little more circumspect.

    On the other hand, the phrase “working on my first novel” appears at the bottom of the resume I’m sending out into the world – the business-focused one… so again, I’m not really hiding it.

    1. You’re right, sometimes it depends on the context. I can’t remember if I put my novel on my resume, but I always have a link to my website, and my boss/coworkers all know that I am working on a novel.

  6. I think I’m fairly liberal in telling people that I’m a writer. (Although for some reason I get rather embarrassed when I start to describe my book I’m trying to get published…?!)

    I think a lot of people probably don’t understand our total absorption into the fantasy world. “Why get all excited over it! It’s not even real!” I do have a few people who I go on and on with about writing, but I don’t do it to everybody. Maybe because I know they don’t understand?

    I mean who else besides a writer would fall in love with their characters like they’re real people?!

  7. It’s a hard line to walk sometimes. I’m in an environment where its hard to tell people that I write, mainly because it’s so foreign to what they do, and I’m *technically* studying to do something else. But people outside of the university definitely hear me say I’m a writer. It gives me a split-personality complex, but it’s the best I can do for now.

    And, I promise, anyone who doesn’t have the stereotypical 9-5 job gets that look. I get that look when I tell people I’m in grad school without even telling them what field I’m in (that’s when they just walk away…)

    Good luck. Put yourself out there. And don’t do it for recognition or reaffirmation. Do it for yourself 🙂

    1. T.S. Bazelli Author

      I hear you on the split-personality. My education/work has very little to do with writing, and I switch on a different mode of thinking depending on the context. You’re very right about the 9-5 job thing too. Thanks for visiting Rosie!

  8. Holy guacamole! This is such a potent question to delve deep into the psychological turbulences that shake a writer’s mind. It’s the lack of achievement that forces us to shut up about it as if it is a dirty secret. I have issues with it to be honest, though I am trying to overcome them.

    Here is the deal. Writers write. Authors are writers, who have published what they write. If we are to talk in Pokemon language, a Writer punches all the attack moves [write, edit, draft, rewrite] and evolves into Author. So, in this sense, we should call each others writers.

    Not easy though.

    1. T.S. Bazelli Author

      Oh I agree. If you write, you’re a writer. Still, you can get strange looks and assumptions when you tell people.

  9. I will tell people, if they ask; but I don’t feel a strong compunction to tell people (I’m shy and I’m much more willing to listen to other people’s stories than tell my own). Fortunately, I have a very strong support group among family (Sambo’s grandmother sees this as a big plus since she wanted to write and never did). I’m truly blessed with their support.

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