I was tooling down I-285 yesterday and passed a car with a license plate that read: NOVLIST. Of course, I looked to see who was driving. He was a 40-something guy with a receding hairline. I don’t know whether I should have recognized him or not.
But it got me to thinking. Do you tell people you’re a writer? I’ve found that people always seem to perk up and act all interested until you get to one of two questions:
1. What do you write?
2. Have you been published?
The first question, in my case, always leads to having to explain what I write. I classify it as urban fantasy, but I think most Jane Q. Publics that I run into don’t know this term. Hell, some writers don’t know this term. So I have to give them tv examples: Supernatural, Heroes, True Blood. If I still get blank stares I resort to the old stand-by: Buffy. For older folks, I’ve found I can use I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched and My Favorite Martian.
Once I’ve clarified what urban fantasy is, I usually get one of two responses.
“Oh, I love that!” or
“Oh.” <— this usually translates to “I only read real liter-ah-chur.” I shrug and move on.
The answer to the second question always drains the interest right out of their eyes. When I say I’m not yet published (never mind that I edit for a living), it’s as if they just realized the pedestal they’d just hiked me up onto only has two legs. And that’s usually the end of the conversation.
So, in general, I’m somewhat circumspect in sharing. I’ve heard from popular novelists who also don’t share that they’re writers. They have the opposite problem, I think. They get all sorts of questions about it.
I suppose once I’m published, I’ll probably go through a frenzy of wanting everyone to know I’m published. But then, will I prefer to keep it quiet, unless actually publicizing? I don’t know.
Are you a writer? If so, do you share that with people who ask what you do?