From Jon’s post “Every Word’s a Gift”:

The world trains young people to feel this way. If you are not making money, then what you are doing is worthless. I think this of all things discourages writers, especially fiction writers. Someone at a party will ask, “What do you do?” and you will respond, “I’m a writer.” This will be followed by a pause, and that same person will ask, a little gently, “But what do you really do?”


Hardly the most important or interesting part of our trip, but there was one small thing that I really enjoyed: not having to explain what I do. Maybe it was because of the language barriers, or the cultural differences, but after I shared that I was a writer — miming a book with one hand, a scribbling pen with the other — that was it. No further questions. Nothing like, What genre? Have you been published? What are you working on now?

I don’t mind talking about my work sometimes, but not having to talk about it is nice sometimes too.

6 responses to “Tales from Botswana: A side note”

  1. Shari Avatar

    Yep. (Though, to be fair, I usually enjoy talking about my work. It’s the silent, or sometimes not-so-silent, judgment that I – we all – get from some people that can prove hard to take.)

  2. Kristan Avatar

    You’re right, that’s the real crux of it.

  3. Rachele Alpine Avatar

    I hear you. When I went to Kenyon this year, it was for the teacher’s workshop, and I didn’t talk a lot about my writing or mention my book. Sometimes it’s nice not to be connected to that and to just experience things without what you do helping to define you.

  4. jkftravel Avatar

    I feel the same way about being a lawyer. When I travel, I usually tell people I’m a cocktail waitress. Everyone likes cocktail waitresses. They bring you things you really want. If you tell people you’re a cocktail waitress, nobody demands you explain how their ex-husbands lawyer got away with all those sketchy antics. Or what will happen to their step-son when he goes to court on his third drug-related charge. They just smile and ask how you’re enjoying the trip. Much better.

    Rachele, were you at the Kenyon teacher’s workshop at the same time the novel workshop was going on, last week?

  5. Rachele Alpine Avatar

    I was! Were you in the novel workshop?

  6. Kristan Avatar

    “Sometimes it’s nice not to be connected to that and to just experience things without what you do helping to define you.” – EXACTLY!

    But what if they ask you to mix a drink?? :P