Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hello? Anybody There?

by Alan

Do you feel like being a writer is a career choice or a calling?

I’ve been and done many things before becoming a writer. Engineer, product planner, marketing manager, entrepreneur. In fact, writing fiction never even crossed my mind until relatively recently (ten years ago).

I disliked writing in high school (Although I loved to read, I didn’t love reading all those boring, assigned books written by dead guys for class. I stuck to my science fiction, much to the consternation of my father, the former English teacher.)

I disliked writing in college. I studied engineering, so I didn’t really have to write much. And certainly nothing creative, unless you consider the analysis of a system’s vibration profile creative (truth: writing a grocery list is more creative).

I disliked writing in grad school. Although I more writing was required there, I managed to fill my papers with technical jargon and buzzwords. We even had a roommate competition where we came up with a list of buzzwords we had to use in each assignment. Which kept us amused, if not the professors.

So if being a writer is a calling for me, the phone rang pretty late.

Actually, in my case, writing was an absolute choice. More evidence: Some writers say they HAVE to write. That if they miss a day of writing, they feel bad. Not me. I can go whole weeks, nay months, without writing, and I wouldn’t feel any different. (Now, if I were to go a whole week without eating, then I would feel bad. Maybe my true calling is eating.)

This question brings up something I struggle with from time to time: my identity. When people ask me what I “do,” I (still) have a hard time saying writer. Yes, I’ve published six books (three traditionally,  three self-pubbed. Note the library “shelfie” with fellow Criminal Mind Clare’s books). Yes, I’m involved with writing organizations and attend writing conferences. Yes, I teach writing workshops (some start this month, sign up HERE). But I still hesitate before I claim to be a writer.

Maybe I’ll just tell people I’m an eater and ask for directions to the nearest buffet.



My book, RIDE-ALONG, is now available as a trade paperback. Enter the Goodreads Giveaway HERE for a chance to win your very own signed copy!


Meredith Cole said...

I think you should get some business cards printed up: Alan Orloff, Eater. It might help get you invited to lots of amazing dinner parties! Hmm. Maybe I should do that, too...

BTW, it's nice to see all the Criminal Mind "O's" together on the shelf!

Catriona McPherson said...

Why did I think you were a lawyer?

Aimee Hix said...

It's the glasses, Catriona. They scream litigator ... and eater.

Alan Orloff said...

Meredith - I love your business card idea! But I think my title should be Professional Eater.

Catriona - Is it because I talk so much?

Aimee - Maybe my business card should read: Alan Orloff, Writer, Litigator, Eater, Man About Town

Susan O'Brien said...

Love the blog post--and the comments! Hilarious. It's fascinating to hear how people become writers/eaters. :) I always dreamed of becoming an author. And I can't go without writing! It would drive me crazy. I'm curious, Alan, what drove you to start writing fiction 10 years ago? You should feel comfortable calling yourself a writer. You've earned it!!