Posted by: Jodi | July 28, 2010

So, What Do You Do?

It's a Happy Thing!

One of those opportunities popped up where I could act like an adult and not a mom among strangers.  Hubby and I attended a technology lecture and dinner and ditched the kids into the care of grandparents.  In the expected mingling after the lecture, the standard ‘getting to know you’ questions started.   Normally when someone asks me what I do, I have  to say something clever about being a stay-at-home mom.  This time was different, for the first time I could give a two-part answer with confidence, “When I’m not a mom, I’m a writer.”

The standard response when people hear that I’m a mom is disinterest and polite attempts to change the subject.  No one except close family and friends want to hear about your kids and what they’ve been up to, especially when they are preschool age.  Even then they only pay attention so that when it’s their turn to share stories about their own children they have a captive audience.

When people hear you’re a writer however, there is an immediate spark of interest.  The questions start flowing.  I’m not used to being the center of a live intelligent conversation with strangers about the art of writing.  If it weren’t for this blog to help organize my thoughts, I fear I would have been constantly struggling and fumbling.  I’m still shy about talking about my book.  I live under the impression that people assume fantasy writers are bizarre, unusual people with unnatural dark habits.  Which is true for me, except perhaps for the dark habits part – my only dark habit is waking before the sun to write about things that don’t exist.

The experience was exhilarating.  People leaned forward to hear what I had to say and I felt comfortable talking about it.  That sounds terribly narcissistic, doesn’t it?  Finally after years and years of watching people mentally tune out when I start talking, they were listening!

Yes, I write – and I love it!



  1. Really? When did you experience an immediate spark of interest? Sometimes I get interest sometimes I get something laong the lines of “Are you published?”

    Well yes, now that you mention it, thanks for asking what I write about. >_>

    • Compared to the response I usually get with telling people I’m a Mom, which is almost no response at all, getting a positive response as a writer was welcome. I haven’t faced the “are you published” question yet, but I hear that most people don’t differentiate between small pubs and large ones, so I at least have something to mention.

  2. Jodi!
    Yes, it does feel good when you get support and encouragement from people outside of the immediate family.
    I think what you experienced is quite valuable. You were introduced to a whole new world. I trust this will not be the last time you get to be acknowledged for who you are, and what you do!

    • I hope not, I’m starting to like it. Now I need to start churning out more work to talk about!

  3. Do you feel narcissistic when talking about your children?

    What you write is a parallel creative endeavor.

    Let your light shine!

    • Not really, I view them as their own entities instead of products of my making. Weird, I know. I did ‘create’ them but the feeling is different.

    • The feeling is different, in part, because society allows us to talk about our kids (and even brag about them) without being labeled a narcissist.

      After all, they are separate entities, right?

      In contrast, we are not encouraged by society to share our talents fully with the world. We are told that humility is a virtue.

      To me, someone who wrote a book 5 years ago who is still basking in the glory and bragging about it is probably a tad narcissistic.

      Someone who is engaged in the creative endeavor of writing a book (or who just completed a manuscript) and is chatting about it over cocktails is just sharing the BEST parts of themselves with the world.

      Shine on!

    • If you’re interested, here’s my take on allowing our creative light to shine without worrying about becoming narcissistic:

  4. I guess people respond the way they do to the “motherhood” answer because they think it’s the same old story they have heard before! If people would only stop and really listen to the answers given them, they would find out how interesting a conversation parenthood can be, because all of our parenting experiences are unique! That said, however, I rejoice with you in that you took the step of calling yourself a “writer” in public! You are, and there is no reason not to make that a wonderful part of your introduction to others!

    Of course you must realize and accept the fact that all writers are seen as unusual people with bizarre dark habits (not just fantasy writers!). Otherwise, what would there be to gossip with others about when the water cooler subject comes around to you? 😀

    Oh, BTW, next time don’t say “When I’m not a Mom, etc.” You are always a Mom, and always will be, and you have always been and always will be a writer! The two are not mutually exclusive! 😀

    Congratulations – sometimes it’s so much fun to be in the center of things!

    • So true. The “When I’m not a Mom” line is just so much faster than saying, “after the kids are in bed and I can finally do something for me…” You’re right, once a mom, always a mom.

  5. Yes, isn’t it wonderful to be able to say “I’m a writer?”

    Glad it was empowering 🙂

    • It was both scary and empowering. I’m not used to presenting this side of me to the non-digital, live world. Have to start somewhere!

  6. loved all of this, but as a citizen, i’d like all of our country thinking happy thoughts. what can your generation do to erase “dark thoughts”?

    • Thanks Dad. I think we define the term ‘dark’ differently… Without the darkness, the light cannot be celebrated!

  7. I often get the response ‘What have you had published?’ I give a little speech about the minor things I have had published and, because most non-writers don’t distinguish between minor and major, I am then free to talk about my latest manuscript.
    Interestingly, people always secretly hope you are writing about them or about someone like them.

    • You are so right about people thinking that you might be writing about them! I know for a fact that a few family members are expecting cameos!

      That’s a great way to handle the “what have you published” question – I think I might use it!

  8. I doubt people tune you out when you speak, regardless of the topic. People don’t tune out an intelligent, articulate person. And you’re not a narcissist when THEY ask YOU what you do.


    Being the pessimist in the crowd (sorry nrhatch. You have an evil twin), I have a hard time calling myself a writer when all I’ve got to show for two completed manuscripts is a stack of rejections 45 deep.

    I don’t think my new co-workers care that I wrote a novel. We’re all editors, which, in English, means we are wanna-be writers. I’ve got an unpublished novelist to my right and a self-published nonfiction writer behind me. And a part-time freelance journalist diagonally to the right.

    They don’t care.

    • Aack!! An evil twin! : )

      BTW: If your co-workers don’t care about your “journey” to write a novel, I expect they will also lack enthusiasm if you ultimately reach the “destination” of publication.

      So, do it for you . . . not them.

      • I’m teasing a bit when I say they don’t care. It’s just that jaded thing editors feel when forced to edit the work of people who can’t write to save their lives. At my previous editing gig in ’05, one of my fellow editors was the author of two Dummies books and he was stuck editing corporate docs for a living. You want to talk about cynical? That guy made me look like Mary Poppins.

      • Oh, it’s a jolly holiday with Mary . . . no wonder that it’s Mary that we love!

        BTW: It’s because I’m so jaded and cynical that I refuse to live life by consensus or to please others.

        After all, what do THEY know??? : )

    • [Blush] Thanks for the compliment! I’m much more articulate online, where I can edit my thoughts, than in person.

      The funny thing about the title of writer is that anyone can say they are. It’s like calling yourself an artist – it’s a mantle we choose to take upon us. I heard that the NYT best seller “The Help” was rejected 70 times before being accepted – it’s a long road, keep trying!

  9. Thanks for this post. I’m always a little nervous about telling people I’m a writer because they always ask how many books I’ve published.

    • Smile and respond that being a writer is about more than publication, or toss out a pithy quote or two:

      Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money. ~ Jules Renard

      The profession of book-writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business. ~ John Steinbeck

    • How do you answer when they ask?

  10. No feeling like saying “I am a writer.” Loud & proud. I do get the occasional weird ‘huh?’ look but it still feels awesome! 🙂

  11. Yep, it’s pretty nice!

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