today, I was asked my least favorite question on earth: so, what do you do?
usually this comes up when meeting new people. often it is assumed that I am a teacher, since my husband is a teacher, many foreigners living in Taiwan are teachers, and 90% of the people we hang out with are also teachers. BUT I am not a teacher [believe me, I tried it.] and once that's cleared up, I have to answer the question.
my response will vary from day to day, conversation to conversation. sometimes I will proudly declare "I'm a writer!" and the immediate follow-up is "cool, what have you published?" and then when I explain "nothing yet" I have to watch the person's face as they mentally disqualify me from being an actual writer.
there are days when I opt for the "I'm a travel blogger, but I'm also working on a manuscript for a novel" version of my life summary. sometimes this prompts blogger eye rolls, but usually people will ask for my website and then look it up while I'm awkwardly still standing there. I've realized though - nowadays people assume when I say "travel blogger" it means I get free stuff and fly first class and stay in fancy places for writing reviews. um, no.
and then, if I've been having a shit week and lacking confidence I go into full self-depreciation mode. "well, technically nothing. I don't get paid, but I have a travel blog. I've been working a a book too, though I haven't made much progress lately." which at best leads to an awkward change in subject and maybe worst the "wow it must be nice to have so much free time! I wish I didn't have to work."
I work - really hard - and I don't get paid. some days my work is 1,200 words [or 200] of a new scene in my novel, some days it's spilling my guts in a blog post like this. some days my work is culling and editing photos, making painful 1st to 3rd person revisions, reading someone else's work, or asking Google questions that make me look like a serial killer.
some days my work is just getting out of the house and away from my computer so my well of creativity doesn't dry out and my brain doesn't shrivel up like a raisin.
there is no one to hold me accountable except myself. I don't have a contract or a deadline, an agent or a publisher. someday, I hope to. and maybe a best-selling debut novel with a major publisher that leads to a 5 book deal with a nice advance.
the truth is, I may never have any of it. but I have to find the motivation to keep trying, to keep writing, anyway.
I know that not everyone who asks me what I do responds like I've outlined above. I have a husband, family, and friends who have been incredibly supportive of my writing. in some ways it's like any other job - I have good days and bad days. there are times when it's easy to know in my heart that I'm doing the right thing. but sometimes, I struggle with doubts. sometimes, well-meaning people will ask how my writing is going and the answer is: terribly.
then again... sometimes the answer is awesome and it leads to a 20-minute discussion about historical vampire fiction, strong female leads, and weird science 💚