“You’re a writer,” the conversation always begins, “what do you write?”
I’ve always had trouble answering this, because, really, I will write anything. Also, in an attempt to portray myself as a professional, I try to pick out those things that I get paid to write, and to make my job sound interesting. I tend to answer with something like, “Some blogs, and I’m working on a novel, and I like to write short stories, and I just started this book…” and trail off into a place void of self-confidence, assuming that they think I’m a hack like every other hobby writer they’ve ever met.
But, last night, I had a breakthrough. Someone asked, “What do you write?” and I answered, “I’m a freelance journalist, and I just published a book of short stories.”
Not only is that answer succinct and professional, it describes what I want to do. I feel strange calling myself a “journalist” without any kind of degree and a very irregular flow of assignments. But, the type of writing I do and the type of career I aspire to is best described in brief conversation as “journalism”, which is far better than a vague string of stories, blogs, books, and plans.
More importantly, this introduction lets people know how I want to be treated.
Stefan and I have taken up the mantra spouted often by comedian Nick Hart: “If you act like big shit, they’ll treat you like big shit.”
That, I suppose, is the comic’s way of saying Dress for the job you want, in a world where your clothes are far less meaningful than your attitude.
Do you get shy trying to explain to people that you’re a writer? What do you want to be?
Here’s some practice: Answer this question with confidence in the comments –
What do you write?
What’s Your Next Big Thing?
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