Tuesday, May 4, 2010


On Sunday, we were at the local winery and buying some wine. I joked with my husband that I now I had a good supply to get me through work deadlines. One of the winery workers overheard and asked what kind of work I did that I could drink wine. I said, "I'm a writer."

And she said, "You are not."

I stared at her. Yes, I said, I am.

"I don't believe you," she said. The person who was checking us out even turned around to look at his co-worker. She shrugged. "A lot of people come in here and say they're writers, but when I ask them what they write about, they tell me about a novel they started six years ago and never finished. Probably because they drink too much wine."

Now it was my turn to shrug. "That's them. I'm a writer. It's what I do for a living. And sometimes I have writer's block, so I'll relax with a glass of wine to help clear my mind."

She leaned over the counter a bit. She was seriously skeptical. I should have left, but it really bugged me that I was being treated as a liar about my own life. "What do you write about?"

I told her. Computer security. Energy. Engineering. (I wish wine . . .) I've published a couple of books. I'm going to be ghostwriting another. I told her she had my name, feel free to do a Google search.

And suddenly she was impressed.

I wish this was unusual, but it isn't. I don't like to talk about my job much with friends and families (or strangers for that matter) and part of the reason is that friends and families (and strangers) have little respect for what I do. Just last Friday, when I mentioned to a friend I was going to take the afternoon off, she said, "Yeah, you can do that because you don't work." She quickly bit her tongue and said, "I mean you don't work for a boss." And so it goes. I'll go to a family event in a couple of weeks and at least three relatives will make a snide remark about their perceptions of how I spend my day and none of them will have anything to do with actual work.

Short of having the skeptics sit on the extra chair in my office to watch me all day (which would be pointless because I struggle to get anything done with other people even in the house, let alone in my office), there isn't much I can do to make anyone believe how hard I work and that, despite the fact I can arrange my day around my own schedule or come to work in sweats, it is a job. One that deserves the respect of any other job.


Lynne said...

Now that I am semi-retired-not-by-choice-but-very-happy-it-happened, and I am pursuing more creative endeavors, I totally understand your lament. I love having no schedule, but I seem to be so busy and happy. Follow your bliss :)

jsturgeon said...

Years ago, the man who owned our cleaning service called me in astonishment. "I just read your article in Indianapolis CEO. I didn't realize you were a real writer."

Well, where did he think I got the real money backing those checks I'd given him for the past few years? (Luckily, he thought I was being lighthearted instead of a smart alec when that flew out of my mouth.)

But after that eye-opener, I stopped caring what people think. They can believe me or not. The only people I have to convince are editors and my accountant. He's on board, at least!

Kristie Sloan said...

It seems to be a common problem, no matter what kind of work you do. If you work from home, many people assume that you don't really "work" and expect you to do anything and everything, besides your work! In their opinion you should be able to volunteer for everything, provide transportation for everyone or their kids, or just do what other people don't have time to do! You just can't care what they think when you tell them what you do, or when you say, "No" to all their requests!

For all those who can create their schedule, but still must work, I say, "Carry on!"