Wednesday, February 8, 2023


In Lucy Worsley’s biography of Agatha Christie, we learned that Christie always wrote “married woman” in the “occupation” line on her passport. How did you navigate going public with being a writer? 

by Dietrich

Around the time of my first novel, Ride the Lightning, somebody asked me, “So, what do you do?” And it felt odd saying that I was a writer. It had taken many short stories and a completed novel for me to say it aloud — more importantly — believing it myself. So, I had to adjust my own definition of myself, at least in terms of what I did for work.

Sure, we all go deeper than what we do for a living, and writing feels like more than just an occupation. It’s a passion — an occu-passion. I think any creative endeavor is that, coming from our depths, from our hearts and souls. It may be work, but it never feels like a job.

Telling somebody that I’m a writer is usually followed with, “So, what do you write?” And then, “What’s your book about?” The first time I was asked that question, I had trouble answering it, and it taught me to always have a pitch ready. It’s not that I expected the person to rush to the bookstand and buy a copy. It’s just that it felt dumb to bumble through the storyline with a lot of uhm and ahh, and with a good chance of sounding like I didn’t know what the story was about myself —  one that I just spent the better part of a year writing. So these days, I always have a short pitch ready for when somebody asks.

Another thing that felt strange was putting that down on my income tax form for the first time. Occupation: writer.  

With the first novel out there, I got to work on the follow-up novel. It just felt like a natural thing for me to do, and I was eager to get to it. And that eagerness has stayed with me every day since.

There were other affirmations that I was going down the right road, like seeing that first book on a store or library shelf. Being asked to sign a copy. Then along came some positive reviews, followed with kind comments from readers, followed by interviews, getting asked to give readings, and being invited to participate in writers’ festivals.

Then there’s also the tremendous support of the writing community — folks who’ve gone done the same road. 

And there’s the support on the home front — something I’m fortunate to get in spades. In fact, I don’t think I would be writing now without that. Where would any of us be without that kind of support?

1 comment:

Catriona McPherson said...

"Occu-passion" - brilliant!