by Giselle Renarde
Here's the truth: I lie about what I do for a living.
I lie about it all the time. You know what I do, because I'm honest on the internet. I'm an author. I write books.
But if we were acquaintances or you met me at a party (well, first of all we wouldn't meet at a party because I don't go to parties), I'd lie to you outright.
What would I tell you I do for a living? Depends on the day. Depends on the context. Usually I pick a job I held, once upon a time, when I still punched the clock. I've had so many jobs in my life. Holy Moses, so much retail! So much admin work! Warehouse worker, military test subject, farmhand. No, I'm not lying to you. I've done all this. Oh hey, I was a mystery shopper at one point. Totally forgot about that one. I've had jobs I can't even name. I would have to describe them to you. And that would take forever. But it would be really funny.
When random people ask me what I do, I pick the most boring of my many, many past occupations. Why pick the boringest one? So people won't ask any follow-up questions. It works pretty well.
Why don't I just tell people I'm a writer?
Glad you asked.
See, I used to tell people. There's a possibility that, at one time, I was proud of my career. Not that I'm NOT proud now. I love what I do. I'm always telling family members to quit their stressful day jobs and write for a living. (The response is usually, "But you're poor." And my response to THAT is, "Poor, but happy!")
So if I love my job so much, why do I lie about it?
Well... a lot of reasons. Cameron sort of touched on one the other day when he mentioned people's perceptions of erotica authors--that we must want to jump everyone's bones. Let me tell you, there are a LOT of people I don't want to have sex with. Most people, in fact. I don't even want to talk about sex with most people. That's just not how I was raised.
Of course, this assumes the first question someone asks when you tell them you're a writer is, "What do you write?"
But it is, 90% of the time.
What reactions fall into that other 10%?
"Oh, you're a writer? Are you published?"
(Uhhh yeah or this wouldn't be much of a career)
"Oh, you're a writer? Self-published?"
(Love that condescension, buddy. Keep it up)
"Oh, you're a writer? How much money do you make?"
(Not nearly enough)
Or instead of asking any follow-up questions, people just laugh or roll their eyes. Or laugh AND roll their eyes. That's actually my favourite reaction, because then I don't have to talk anymore.
The worst, for me, is when people have endless questions about my work. This might be hard for you to believe, since I bang on about every aspect of my existence here and elsewhere online, but in real life I don't like talking about myself at all.
Being a writer seems interesting. That's why people ask. If I weren't a writer, I'd probably think this was the coolest career EVAH. But I do it every day, so to me it's just a job. Not saying I don't love it. I wouldn't trade this life for anything. But I'm not the kind of author who wants to talk about process. I'd rather just do it.
I talked to my sister about all this stuff a few months ago and she said to me, "If those are all the things you DON'T want people asking when you say you're a writer, how DO you want them to react?"
That's just it: I don't know. I guess I'd want them to be like, "Oh, you're a writer? That's interesting. I have 400 chickens and now I'm going to tell you all their names..."
But that almost never happens.
So I lie.
Although, truth be told, when I tell people I have some boring job, they usual say, "That's weird. You seem like you'd have some kind of creative career... like a writer or something."
Giselle Renarde is an award-winning queer Canadian writer. Nominated Toronto’s Best Author in NOW Magazine’s 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards, her fiction has appeared in well over 100 short story anthologies, including prestigious collections like Lambda Award winner Take Me There, edited by Tristan Taormino. Giselle's juicy novels include Anonymous, Cherry, Nanny State, and Bali Nights.