“So, what do you write?”
Whenever I’m talking to someone new and mention that I’m a writer, I’m always asked, “So, what do you write?”. I hate this question. In fact, I think most writers hate it. Why? Because it’s not easy to answer.
What I mean is that it’s difficult to be succinct when answering. I could answer, “fiction”, which then leads to being asked what kind of fiction. If I reply that I write science-fiction or horror, I often get the lip curl and a, “oh, I don’t read that.” Some even take it a step further and respond with, “I don’t read that stuff. Why don’t you write about…?” Ugh. If I tell them I write speculative fiction, then I end up having to define it for them, and even then they often don’t understand and suggest I write about something else.
Lately, my go-to response has been, “Words. I write words.” For some folks, that satisfies them. I mean, it’s the truth, right? And they usually think I’m being funny and politely laugh and move on to another conversation topic. But there’s always that one person who dismisses this as an answer and continues to question me and make suggestions.
I recently had someone stop me in the hallway at work to tell me they had a great idea for my next story, then proceeded to tell me about how they were recently in a big retail store and heard someone say something funny while talking on their phone. I listened politely, nodded a few times, then told them I’d make a note of it. A few days later they stopped by my office and asked if I’d started writing the story yet. I felt like a dog that just heard a weird noise…my ears when up and I cocked my head to the side.
There have been times when I attended a social event and asked my partner to not mention that I’m a writer. Sometimes I don’t want to deal with the questions or the suggestions. And yes, the suggestions are endless.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud to be a writer. I’m proud of the stories I’ve written, the newspaper articles, the grant writing, marketing text, and the scripts. But there are times when I wish people would simply say, “A writer? That’s awesome! Where can I buy your books?” or “Where can I read your stories?” I wish it were more about the final product and less about me. I like to think of myself as the Great and Powerful Oz…I’m the guy behind the curtain pushing the buttons and pulling the levers. Pay no attention to me. Just focus on the stories I’m creating.
But such is the life of a writer. I should get business cards printed up that read, “Richard Bist, Writer. He writes words. Links to his words can be found at www.richardbist.com.” Do you think that’ll work?