Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Reactions to My Career Choice

Three months ago when I started working as a non-paid unpublished stay-at-home writer, I was worried about what people would think of me.

The responses have been surprisingly positive. For the most part, people I meet are encouraging and supportive. They think what I'm doing is cool.

Most people I speak to (and I've noticed this throughout my life) are interested in writing books of their own someday. I believe the urge to record thoughts - thereby immortalizing ourselves - is a primal instinct ingrained in all of us. It could be journaling, fiction, poetry, or it could even be arts and crafts. It doesn't matter. We all want to leave a piece of ourselves behind, and we admire others who do.

Apparently, writing books isn't an unusual career choice for stay-at-home moms. It's unusual for a stay-at-home person like me, but I still feel like I'm in good company.

Not all the responses have been positive, though I can't complain. I've only had one upsetting reaction, one weird one, and two people who said "Oh," and changed the subject.

The weird reaction was this: when someone asked what I did, I said, "I'm an aspiring author." He said, "That's cool. So, do you actually aspire, or do you just..." He shrugged. 

I'm pretty sure he meant to end that sentence with, "Or do you just dream about being a writer and not actually do anything about it?" When I told him I try to write at least two hours a day (I wouldn't be able to justify staying at home if I did any less), he nodded and asked what my book was about.

Like I said, there was only one reaction I didn't appreciate. Normally I wouldn't have minded, but this particular person should have known better. He asked me, "If you and Andrew can't have kids right away, are you going to get a job?"

(I've already mentioned that I don't want people to think I spend my days just waiting to reproduce, so that was a little irritating.)

"I already have a job," I told him. "I'm working on my book."

"Oh." He looked confused. "When you're don't with your book, then what will you do?"

"I'll write another one."

He looked even more confused, so I explained, "I have a lot of ideas. This is what I plan to do for the rest of my life."

Perhaps my irritation was evident because he found a reason to end the conversation and go somewhere else. I need to learn how to hide my emotions better.

Oh well, who cares? I'm getting all the support I need, and that makes me happy.


  1. Not everyone is going to be supportive, but they should. Writing a novel is a huge undertaking, and I really admire you for committing yourself to it.

  2. I go through the same thing as a freelance graphic designer who works at home. I get responses from acquaintances like "so why don't you apply for a full time job" or "ohhh... I thought you were working". So annoying! Only when they see my work that they realize it's a REAL job.

  3. Tell them that if they're lucky you'll put them in your novel as a character. And just say you're a writer, not aspiring author. Mention how many novels you're working on, that you have aget interest; that you have a blog about writing with x number of followers, and that this is more than a full time job—it's your passionate avocation. You could also say that you decided to follow this path instead of sinking your money into getting an MFA, since the academic path is so iffy these days. And then turn the conversation to what they do to fill their days. Bet you it's not nearly as interesting. ;)

  4. Some people tend to conform to the cookie-cutter career choices out of fear of doing something bigger, better and more rewarding. I admire you for what you are doing!

  5. It's really nice to read that the majority of the reactions to your career choice are positive :) Thanks for sharing!


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