Last week, when I sat down with my son’s teacher to discuss the upcoming year, I mentioned that since I worked from home, I was available to help in the classroom if she ever needed it. “What do you do?” she asked. “I’m a writer,” I replied, cringing a little because I feel like I’m lying when I say this. Her eyes lit up. “Really? That’s excellent. We’re doing a whole unit on authors and writing right now! Maybe you could come talk to the class?” And even though I felt like a total fraud, I said I would.
Am I scared? Hell, yes.
Not only do I have to control twenty 3rd graders for thirty minutes, but I have to face that room full of nine-year-olds and act like I’ve got some reason for being there. I feel like I’ve got to prove to them and the teacher that I’m legit.
Sure, I’m a core contributor of fiction for a magazine and I do some non-fiction content development (and these things help pay the bills), but so far, the book thing hasn’t happened. And for some reason, I find it difficult to believe I’m a real writer in the world’s eyes because I don’t have the agent, the book deal, the name recognition. In fact, I've stopped mentioning that I'm working on a novel because I don't want to deal with the "When's your book being published?" issue.
So my question is this – when does a writer become a “real” writer? When you get paid for something? The first time you get something published? When you quit your job to write full time? When you make sacrifices so that you can write?
Do you tell people you are a writer? What's the reaction?
And on another note, if you have any suggestions for my 3rd grade debut next week, I’d love to hear them. I plan on showing a photo prompt, and then going around the room letting them take turns giving me characters, setting, problem (conflict), the events, and the solution. When we’re done, I’ll read their story back to them. Thoughts?