A few months ago if someone asked me what I did for a living, my response was either, "I'm a housewife of New Jersey" or "Oh, I'm a stay at home mom." I never mentioned that whenever I had a minute, I sat at my computer and bashed away at the keys, writing stories.
Ever since my book was published by Fantasy Island Book Publishing, however, I don't say that any more. My response is, "I'm an author." People are always interested (fascinated, even) when I tell them what I do. They ask about my book, The Night Watchman Express. They want to know about the process of creation. They want to know how I got started, and how I stuck it out for over 150,000 words of text.
And then something else happens.
On Thursday, I met a friend and her sister for coffee. The conversation turned to my job, and they asked about what I did. Then both of them began to talk about their own writing. My friend confessed that she wrote poetry. Her sister said she was thinking of writing a book reconciling new motherhood with her current field, anthropology.*
Today the same thing occurred. I was at a lunch, and when I mentioned my writing, a man told me that his daughter spent her time writing flash fiction.
I never got this kind of insider knowledge when I mentioned my housewife status.** I think that writing, or at least the act of creating something, is a topic that everyone can relate to at some level. Perhaps most people have been struck by an idea while they were showering, or making pancakes, or driving their kids to school. Perhaps that idea is something that they know would make a great story, if they sat down and worked on it.
And perhaps that is the difference. Ninety percent of the people, having been given that idea, will let it sit in the recesses of their imaginations. It is the ten percent*** who act on those ideas, who sit at their desks and start writing or typing - slowly at first, with lots of stopping and crossing out of words, then getting faster and faster - who will accomplish the act of writing a short story, a novella, or a complete book.
I'm enjoying coming out of the closet. I was embarrassed at first, but now I'm more comfortable talking about my work and explaining what it is that I do, now that I see that the interest in my book is genuine. I also love listening to other people as they come out of the closet, describing what they write when they complete that wonderful equation; Butt + Chair = Written Work.
*Her new baby was really, really cute, by the way.
**Not that there is anything WRONG with that; 'tis a noble and difficult job.
***These numbers are completely made up.