“So, what do you spend all day doing now?”
I was asked that very recently by an acquaintance. Let me set the record straight here; she knows that I’m a writer, and knows I’ve been working on a novel. Before my defenders rush in and assure me it was all in jealousy, she herself has a career that she purportedly loves, with lovely hard earned letters behind her name affirming her greatness.
Here’s the thing. I’d love to say that this kind of rude question was a first to me, but it wasn’t. In fact, I’ve also been asked (by different judging acquaintances):
“What exactly do you do all day?” and “Don’t you miss working?”
I must have missed something – when did I stop working? I believe I wrote and edited my first novel, started writing my second novel, and have thrown editing services, freelance writing and teaching workshops into the mix. But hey, I don’t sit in a blue cube for eight hours a day with regular trips to gossip at the water cooler, so I guess I’m an unemployed bum, not a writer. It must be the lack of a 9-5 job with a regular pay check that rattles people. But seriously, if it doesn’t offend my husband, my kids or my parents…then what is your problem?
Ugh. What is going on here, and who spit in their bean curds?
To be honest, I always answer that type of ego jarring question the same way – I list my accomplishments to the interrogator like a good little student, making sure to highlight the changes or advances since their last rude grilling. I end up feeling somewhat desperate, sometimes deflated, and always worse for wear.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to talk about my writing. Ask me anything without a hidden agenda and I’ll bend your ear for an hour. People who’ve asked the offending questions do have an agenda though, I’m just not very clear on what it is. Perhaps they’re socially stunted, and don’t know how to ask an engaging question. If that’s the case, this should help:
“What’s your novel about” or “How’s the book coming along?” or “When can I buy your book?” or “What are you writing now?” or “Where can I read your stuff?” = GOOD
“Don’t you get bored at home all day?” = BAD
I’m not clear on their motivation for asking in such an unsporting way, so I don’t really know how to answer. But as of today, I’m done justifying my day’s work to any negative ninny.
If I’d started following my dream when I was in my twenties or thirties and someone pulled out the hater survey like that, I don’t think I would have been strong enough to take it. I would have given up on writing a novel, gone back to something life draining in the blue cubical and remained a slave to making decent money for a second-rate career. One which I hated and left me feeling unsettled and unhappy. It took me until I was turning 40 to be brave enough to move forward and live my dream. So the odd rude comment won’t stop me now. Even so, it’s odd and offensive.
So now that I’ve worked it out in blog therapy (thank you ever so much), I wait with baited breath for the next haughty person to ask me insincerely about what I do.
I have the following responses ready and would love to see your vote on which one is most suitable for one who asks something like: “So, what is it you do all day?”
A – I spend most of the day curled up and crying, waiting for my family to come home and rescue me from myself.
B – Mostly I masturbate. Except when I eat chocolate or do a crossword puzzle.
C – That’s an odd way to ask me about how my book is coming along. That is what you are asking me, right?
What do you think blog readers – A, B, or C? Or send me your own suggestions in the battle against the dark force of negativity!