The Page a Day Writers Group

What Do You Do for a Living?

Posted on: September 7, 2010

I’m a novelist.
I’m an essayist.
I’m a columnist.
I’m a journalist.
I’m a reporter.
I’m a wordsmith.
I’m an author.
I’m a poet.
I’m a playwright.
I’m a freelancer.

 
What do you do for a living?
This question has bewildered those in the writing field for centuries. I suspect Shakespeare, Dickinson, Hemingway, Angelou and Rowling even struggle to respond.

I started thinking about this after reading a recent post froma new, yet-to-be-published writer on LinkEds & Writers. She wondered how the rest of us answer that question and leave the inquisitor with no doubt as to how serious we are about our career choice.

I love  how Miranda S. responded to the post: “I’m an independent journalist and editorial consultant.” As far as I’m concerned, Miranda nailed it. “When people ask the annoying questions about what I write/edit and where, I say ‘You name it! Right now I’m working on an article about X, and helping an author write his book and market it to agents.’ If it’s in person, I then take the opportunity to hand them my card.”

“You’re a writer because you can imagine something in such detail that it comes to life.”

On his Guide to Literary Agents Editors Blog, Chuck Sambuchino takes an interesting approach to answering the question. His post At What Point Can You Call Yourself a Writer?

Sambuchino gives a masterful answer: “You’re a writer because of the things you notice in the world, and the joy you feel stringing the right words together so they sound like music. You’re a writer because you can imagine something in such detail that it comes to life.” How true is that for all of us. Sambuchino adds, “You’re a writer because you’re obsessed with making your ideas clearer, tighter, fiercer. You’re a writer because you have every reason to stop (it takes too much time, pays too little, and the rejection hurts too terribly), but you can’t do it. It’s not that you love to write so much as you need to write.”

Ditto, Chuck.
 
So at the next cocktail party or book club meeting, when you’re asked what do you do, throw your shoulders back, smile confidently and proudly proclaim:

I’m a writer.
I’m a novelist.
I’m an essayist.
I’m a columnist.
I’m a journalist.
I’m a reporter.
I’m a wordsmith.
I’m an author.
I’m a poet.
I’m a playwright.
I’m a freelancer.
 

–Claire Yezbak Fadden

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2 Responses to "What Do You Do for a Living?"

I felt like Chuck was talking about me when he said, “You’re a writer because you’re obsessed with making your ideas clearer, tighter, fiercer. You’re a writer because you have every reason to stop (it takes too much time, pays too little, and the rejection hurts too terribly), but you can’t do it. It’s not that you love to write so much as you need to write.”

Nice post!

And you really ARE all of those writer things, Claire. Soon we will celebrate our publishing endeavors together.

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Who are we?

The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!

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