I’m a novelist.
I’m an essayist.
I’m a columnist.
I’m a journalist.
I’m a reporter.
I’m a wordsmith.
I’m an author.
I’m a poet.
I’m a playwright.
I’m a freelancer.

 
What do you do for a living?
This question has bewildered those in the writing field for centuries. I suspect Shakespeare, Dickinson, Hemingway, Angelou and Rowling even struggle to respond.

I started thinking about this after reading a recent post froma new, yet-to-be-published writer on LinkEds & Writers. She wondered how the rest of us answer that question and leave the inquisitor with no doubt as to how serious we are about our career choice.

I love  how Miranda S. responded to the post: “I’m an independent journalist and editorial consultant.” As far as I’m concerned, Miranda nailed it. “When people ask the annoying questions about what I write/edit and where, I say ‘You name it! Right now I’m working on an article about X, and helping an author write his book and market it to agents.’ If it’s in person, I then take the opportunity to hand them my card.”

“You’re a writer because you can imagine something in such detail that it comes to life.”

On his Guide to Literary Agents Editors Blog, Chuck Sambuchino takes an interesting approach to answering the question. His post At What Point Can You Call Yourself a Writer?

Sambuchino gives a masterful answer: “You’re a writer because of the things you notice in the world, and the joy you feel stringing the right words together so they sound like music. You’re a writer because you can imagine something in such detail that it comes to life.” How true is that for all of us. Sambuchino adds, “You’re a writer because you’re obsessed with making your ideas clearer, tighter, fiercer. You’re a writer because you have every reason to stop (it takes too much time, pays too little, and the rejection hurts too terribly), but you can’t do it. It’s not that you love to write so much as you need to write.”

Ditto, Chuck.
 
So at the next cocktail party or book club meeting, when you’re asked what do you do, throw your shoulders back, smile confidently and proudly proclaim:

I’m a writer.
I’m a novelist.
I’m an essayist.
I’m a columnist.
I’m a journalist.
I’m a reporter.
I’m a wordsmith.
I’m an author.
I’m a poet.
I’m a playwright.
I’m a freelancer.
 
 

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