Had I known that telling people I’m an author came with the same barrage of predictable questions every single time, I might have had the foresight to arm myself with a recorded, automated response I could play every time someone asks…
And what do you do?
At this point I know I can look forward to at least one of the following questions;
- “An author? Really?” They might ask as they look at me with suspicious disbelief. Because aren’t real authors serious, intellectual, poetry musing people with neat little haircuts like Donna Tartt and fancy British accents?
- “An author, how lovely?” They say, while looking at me in a patronizing manner, as if they’re imagining some whimsical version of me sitting under a blossom tree at the bottom of an English country garden scribbling little notes in calligraphy on old bits of papyrus. “How sweet.“
- They might then ask, “but how much money do you make writing books?” Because it’s perfectly ok to ask a person about their earnings. That’s not rude at all.
- “And what do you write?” They often ask. And when I reply with a, ‘mainly romantic comedies’ they reply with a knowing, “Oooohhh, I see!” Their suspicions about me have just been confirmed; because real writers don’t write romance. Undersexed, bored housewives with nothing better to do now that little Jimmy has left home write romance. “Oh, so you write books about greasy, shirtless fireman who save bare-breasted virgins from burning buildings and then shag them all the way into Sunday?”
- They may also start telling me about their brilliant idea for a book, the one they have been meaning to write for soooo long, but haven’t had any spare time. (It is also the worst idea in the world.)
- They often ask how I come up with the ideas? As if that’s an easy answer.
- Or they might ask me what else I do, since being an author is not a serious, real job, right?
- And then the most bizarre one by far, ‘What do you write, children’s books?’ (I suspect this question has more to do with my appearance than anything else.)
To avoid the inevitable tedium, I’ve debated the pros and cons of telling people that I’m either an undertaker or a hooker. I’m pretty sure that telling people you work with dead bodies all day over hors d’oeuvres is a conversation killer. Likewise, I’m sure that telling someone you stand on a street corner while doing the soccer mom run will also shut them up.
But, of course, I don’t. So when asked what I do I shrug, I look wildly disinterested (I might even roll my eyes and make a tisking sound) and I mutter something or other under my breath about ‘working for myself’ and then I very quickly add a, “And what do you do?”
*Jo Watson is an award-winning author of romantic comedies. Her book Burning Moon is coming out in August this year and will be translated into French, German and Italian. Her books have been read over 18 Millions times online on Wattpad and she is represented my Erica Spellman of the Trident Media Group. You can pre-order her book here.