When someone asks what I do, I almost never mention writing.
Usually I say something along the lines of “I work in finance.” If pressed, or if the person seems genuinely curious, I sometimes provide more color: “I’m head of FP&A for a publicly-traded software company, with a healthy serving of Investor Relations on the side.”
If the conversation lasts long enough, I might mention that I have a book coming out in April, at which point the inquirer assumes I’ve written about FP&A and that they’ve just met the person responsible for creating the most boring book of all time.
I don’t know why I’m so evasive about it. Maybe because I’ve always been “in finance” and that’s easier to explain. Or believe. Or maybe because for so many years I didn’t want to face the inevitable “have I read anything you’ve written?” Uh, no. “When’s your book coming out?” Uh, one day, hopefully?
I’ve always felt more like a hobbyist than a writer, which is funny because although A Paris Apartment will be my first published novel, I’ve probably written well over a dozen books. The vast majority of these have no business seeing the light of day, but that’s not the point. I wrote them. And as any writer (Writer?) knows, completing an entire manuscript is a massive undertaking no matter the end result. It is really freaking hard to finish a book. Even harder to edit that finished book, if you ask me.
I wake up at 5 a.m. I write late into the night. I sneak minutes between my girls’ softball double headers. I will write a few sentences waiting for water to boil. And I’ve been doing this for years and years, decades even. Sounds like a pretty grueling “hobby”, right? A real “dabbling” kind of endeavor? I mean, I don’t even put this kind of effort into obsessing about sports.
A few months ago my former childhood au pair, who is from Denmark (and lives there now), tracked down my mom on Facebook. Because of course my siblings and I were the most delightful and memorable children she’d ever encountered. 😉 Anyway, upon hearing about the book, she wrote:
“Ages ago it was expected that you would become a writer, remember you writing all the time.”
Huh. I guess, despite being a newbie in the publishing world, I have been doing this writing thing a long time. Her words were a good reminder for this novice, this rookie, this “I’m in finance” kind of person. Maybe at the next cocktail party I’ll try leading with “Writer.”