free the pen, a blog for writers

March 24, 2014

So What Else Do You Do?

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 3:05 pm

Today my special guest is Pat LaPointe author of the fabulous anthology: The Woman I’ve Become   

                  So What Else Do You Do?

by Pat LaPointe

I’m sure other writers have heard this after they tell others that they are writers. Or, is it only me?

You’ve just met someone at a non-writing related event.

You ask: “What do you do?”

She responds: “I’m a CPA. What do you do?”

You reply: “I’m a writer.”

“Oh, what have you published?”

You try not to give out an exasperated sigh. You’ve been asked this question over and over since you submitted your first piece of writing.

“Well I’m working on a novel right now . . .

“Oh, but do you work?”

You think about telling her you’ve been given a grant or perhaps you have a trust fund but with eyes suddenly focused on your shoes, answer “Yes, I’m a writer”.

She, like so many others before, suddenly see someone she must talk to or needs to refill her drink.

This is not likely the only situation where you’ve had to defend your passion, your life.  Have you ever tried to tell others that you’re not available between such and such times every day?  They appear to understand your needs, only to call, stop in, or tell you they can only meet during those times. After all, you’re just sitting around at home writing. No big deal.

And some of them just can’t take a hint. You hear their car pull into the driveway and hurry to turn out the lights, only to see them peeking in the garage window to see if your car is there. Often they then proceed to press your doorbell for at least a minute or two.

This is when you are truly challenged. Can you live with the guilt of rejecting them in order to pump out that next chapter?

If it’s a needy Nancy type, it’s easier to just go back to your writing. She’s just going to call as soon as she leaves, probably several times and leave messages about how miserable she is and really needs to talk.

Oh, but what if you peek through the curtains and see a little person coming up the driveway. This becomes the toughest challenge of all- somebody’s here to see Grandma.

The internal battle begins. They won’t be little for long. Do you really want to miss some    quality time, the opportunity to make memories, just to write something that you have          now convinced yourself that you’ll probably trash later? Besides, it’s your child who is bringing the little lad or lassie. You remember her telling you that you never had enough time for her. It’s a chance to make up for it. And with that you open the door, smile and open your arms to the little one.

You’re feeling good, you’ve done the right thing. This lasts until your child asks you if you can take care of the little one while she goes for her manicure or out to lunch with a friend. The little one has already come from the toy room. “Grandma, can you play this with me?”

After a couple of hours, the time you would have spent writing, the Mom returns and you’re exhausted and stiff from sitting on the floor. She looks relaxed, but in a hurry to leave. It’s the little one’s nap time. You feel like it’s Grandma’s nap time too.

As they pull down the driveway, you walk over to your laptop and begin to sit down, ready to get back to your work. Instead, you hit “save” and then “shut down”.  As you walk away from your desk you keep repeating: “I am a writer. I am a writer… It is a real job”.

Pat is the past President of the Story Circle Network through which she continues to facilitate both internet and on-site writing groups for women. She is the Director of WomensVoices,, and the editor of the online Changes In Life monthly newsletter for women In 2012 she published “The Woman I’ve Become: 37 Women Share Their Journeys from Toxic Relationships to Self Empowerment” and contributed to the 2014 “Aspiring to Inspire” anthology of womens’ writing.

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