I can't call myself a writer

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I have a terrible, terrible problem. Having never actually been an undercover cop it feels like a lie to tell you that it feels like being an undercover cop in my own life. Obviously nowhere near as high stress. But it's a problem.

I have a real issue telling people I'm a writer. It's very odd. I write. I write quite a lot. I'm working on another novel. I have two published already. I'm definitely a writer. Right?

And yet, people ask me what I do, unless I am at some sort of writer-thing where people already known I'm a writer, I say: "I'm a... student." Occasionally, after telling them about what I'm studying, they'll ask if I work. And I'll say: "No." And then, several seconds later, I'll mumble, "I... write. A bit."

I'm an author! I've been writing professionally for almost five years! Why do I do this?

I feel really fraudulent. I feel fraudulent when I don't tell people I'm a writer, because it's such a huge part of my identity.

I'm a writer, but I'm a writer who feels really inadequate. I'm not a bestseller. My books have won no awards. I don't write in a genre the majority of people regard as 'real'. And the next question, whenever you tell someone you're a writer, is "How much money do you make?"

People don't get it. People think it's all about making lots of money and winning awards and showing everyone how great you are. Maybe on some level I'd like those things - I have always dreamt of owning a house and of course I'd love to continue writing and being published - but I don't think these are the keys to a satisfying life.

So: I'm Steph Bowe. I'm a writer. I'm not glamorous. I'm not rich. You've probably not heard of me (oh, I mean, you have, of course). People enjoy the words I write, and that's nice. I would write even if I couldn't make any money out of it. It's who I am rather than what I do. I love writing. I love books. I don't so much love the business of being a writer, or worrying about book sales, or promotion, or trying to sound impressive when people ask me what I do. I get tired of trying to prove myself.

It's a bit too long a spiel for when people ask what I do, isn't it? Maybe get 'writer, not rich, not award-winner, sensitive weirdo' tattooed on my forehead and be done with it.
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