Never Admit to Being an Aspiring Writer

440364-Royalty-Free-RF-Clip-Art-Illustration-Of-A-Cartoon-Tired-Woman-With-Bad-Hair-Holding-Coffee For years now I’ve skirted the question of my desired profession, usually answering a question with a question: What don’t I do? Changing the subject: I think there’s too much money in politics! Or a good old-fashion diversion: Look! Flying squirrel!

Admitting to being an aspiring writer evokes two reactions: high expectations, which are the worst, or low expectations — aka, pity, which is a tad more comfortable, like a pair of nubby slippers you just can’t pitch, even though the flies have begun to circle.

High expectations reaction:

Q: Are you published yet?
A: Querying trenches.

Q: What’s querying?
A: A process that requires every writer to lose faith in their writing and drink lots of wine until they can’t remember the failure of yesterday. Repeat for many months or even years.

Interruption: You know, I always wanted to write a book. I think I could.
A: Hold on. Deja vu….. Okay, it passed.

Q: What’s your process?
A: Have you ever seen sausage being made?

Q: Does it have vampires in it?
A: No, but if a movie version came out, Robert Pattinson would totally play the male lead and I would insist he audition to me in private.

Q: Wow, you’ll be famous, right?
A: Yeah, you know you really should write that book of yours. Only then will you know the lavish world that awaits you with this easy, breezy pursuit.

Low expectations reaction:

Q: Really? Writing? You’re serious?
A: Yeah.

Q: Really?
A: Yeah.

*Pity head shake* Translation: Get a real job already.

Q: You know what you’re up against?
A: Oh, you mean that there’s a greater chance of rockets shooting out of my arse? Then yes.

But if I don’t say writer, I get stuck with the stay-at-home-mom label, which is like a bat signal for the PTA. The next thing you know, you’ll be thrown into a mosh pit of bake sales, class moms, holiday festivities, garden clubs, crappy jewelry exchanges, sex toy parties, fundraisers, etc. One day it’s, “Sure, I’ll help out.” And the next, you’re roadside, staking the ground with 125 road signs to “Pass the School Budget!” with cookie dough stuck in your hair and play doh under your nails. No thank you. I’m a grizzled mother of three, my oldest is entering high school, and my helicopter crash-landed years ago. Go find a fresher, younger face with her blades still sputtering. You can’t miss her. Her oldest will be five and she’ll look like she walked off the set of Zombieland, still insisting on her I-haven’t-given-up-my-style high heel shoes.

So I did something very strange recently. I was in a cab near a college campus and when the driver asked if I was a student, I nodded yes. Anything to avoid my aspirations. Now, I’m sure he was suspicious of this extremely senior student old enough to be on her 10th college degree, but maybe he was just happy I didn’t puke in the backseat after the words: college and student. However, I’m a fairly bad liar. I should have said plumber or drag queen or something that wouldn’t have follow-up questions, like, “Really? What’s your major?”

“Creative writing.” Oh crap. Did I just say that? I just turned the steering wheel 360 degrees! I should never be a taxi driver.

“Really! Are you gonna write a book one day?”

Double crap. “Yeah. I might give it a go. Why the hell not.”

I see his face grinning in the rearview mirror. “You know,” he says. “I really want to write a book one day.”

“No kidding?” I say. “You should totally do that.”

So next time, I’m going to muster up the courage to say stripper. I doubt this will ignite further conversation. If it does, I’m in deep waters. But at least I’ll walk away with a good story…or an extremely embarrassing YouTube video. In the meantime, I’ve started my second novel. It’s like childbirth, I forgot the agony of the first and I’m already half pregnant.


21 thoughts on “Never Admit to Being an Aspiring Writer

  1. O. Leonard

    Yeah, well good luck on the second novel. What happened to the first? I’ve been working on my “novel” for going on 30 years. Don’t really know what’s holding me back, maybe the writing part, but I have suffered the down side of admitting that being a writer is what I really want to do. Enjoyed the post.

    1. desertdweller29

      Sometimes I feel like we just have to write that first one so we can start the second. I’m finding it so much easier and more enjoyable the second time around. The first one comes with too much fear and restriction. Maybe it really is like having kids. The first child you’re so scared you’ll break him/her. By the second and third, you’ve abandoned that fear and are more confident. Good luck to you!

    1. desertdweller29

      Ha! All good suggestions, Professor. I believe I might take up pipe smoking. It’s so retro it has to be cool. I most definitely will say dadblameit! It covers so much ground, even away from PL. …Yes, I failed to mention that I’m excited to start another book. Writing is the fun part… It’s all the other dadblameitry that comes after! (I can say dadblamieitry, right?)

      1. desertdweller29

        It’s a realistic, contemporary YA, set in the Superstition Mountains in AZ. It’s a new twist on a cowboy meets city slicker adventure, racing to find the main character’s missing father, who is a seeker of the Lost Dutchman’s gold.

        I have a better pitch somewhere around here…. Now it’s your turn, Professor! I loved your description of when you first began the daunting adventure of novel writing… What has come of it since? (If you don’t mind the telling?) 🙂

      2. Professor VJ Duke

        That sounds interesting to me! I’d like to read about the Superstition Mountains! Just keep writing and enjoying it, I’d say.

        Well…I’d like to write a novel. But I don’t think I’m a writer. And I’m not sure how to tell the PL story! Dadblamery, huh?

  2. bronxboy55

    I dread that question, too. On the rare occasion when someone actually asks, and I reply that I’m a writer, they’re usually caught off-balance and don’t know what to say next. And neither do I.

    If you ever want to talk about self-publishing, let me know. It could save you years of frustration.

    1. desertdweller29

      Thanks! I’m close to considering self-publishing. I have it in my head it would linger in oblivion if I went that route, but that could happen even in traditional publishing.

      Good to know you dread that question, too! I love your blog. It’s always thoughtful and humorous, which is the best combination.

  3. cari365

    Hello S :D, so good to pop back into this WordPress, I have been AWOL for awhile for many of the reasons you outline above haha…the life of the artist is much the same…the painting is the fun part…trying to get your work recognized, well…DADBLAMIETRY sums it up!!! I’m so happy to hear you are still writing and on your second novel..WOW. Truly wish you all the very best and far less Spam days. 🙂


    Or the ever ubiquitous party comment with requisite elbow jab: “So when’s the book coming out…” GREAT POST! Well written, writer! Hey, I wondered on that note, if you’d be interested in being on a blog tour? I’ll link back to you and you follow the format in my blog where I list a few projects I”m working on and the first few lines of each of those projects. Then I include an introduction to you, a link to your blog. You write a post in the same format and link back to me. Sound like something you want to do? Luanne at tagged me and you can go on her post called Blog Tag from this month and see what you think…

      1. TheFeatheredSleep

        Oh I just think you are so brilliant Sabrina you are a voice for our generation and so much more than that and if anyone breaks through it will be you, I have so much faith in you and what you say. xo

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