What do you do?

So I met a friend recently who I was telling about my book.
‘So what do you do?’ She asked.
‘Well, right now I am promoting my book. I am trying to penetrate the local market and also making progress in online circles’ I said.
‘Ok that’s nice. So what do you do for work?’

I sighed. I’m a writer you friggin idiot! My eyes screamed as my lips widened into a full smile. I looked at my friend, so tired of the bullshit and pretense but this time instead of betraying myself I owned it… and with confidence too!

‘What do I do for work? Well, writing is my work. It is what I have always wanted to do. I have published a book now, so I’m an author. I am getting it out into the market. I am spreading my message and so far getting an excellent response. It’s gonna be a bestseller. I really hope you get a chance to read it.’

‘Oh ok… Good for you…’  She said uncomfortably.

Oh My God,  she was embarrassed for me.  I could almost feel her saying – Writing and selling a book is not a job girl! What the hell are you doing?…  (And I thought of chapter 1 and chapter 82 of my book. She needed to read it.) She honestly could not believe that with my qualifications and experience, that I  would not have a ‘job’ and actually be proud of telling people that I had written a book. SMH

I signed. For a long time when I’d meet old friends who wanted to compare their status with mine, I’d respond to the then dreaded question (‘What do you do?’ ) by spilling out all the little projects that I was engaged in – marketing consultancy, teaching, work with my craft association, t shirt business and working on publishing my book. That made me sound busy and important. Just as accomplished as I ‘should’ be… according to them. But as I write in Chapter 6, success is relative. Of course I consider myself a success!

Yes I was a corporate marketing executive for ten years and also did all these other things to make ends meet, but at my core I am a writer. End of story. And writers publish books as a means of earning an income. And trust me promoting your book is a full time job. I am a one woman sales, marketing, accounting, admin and customer care center.  And as with any business, every sale counts. Every referral is a multiplier for your business. Networking leads to sales. And small sales lead to larger orders which lead to more revenue.

Making your talent your business is nothing to be ashamed of. It is incredibly rewarding. Even when your income is not what it should be, you are still rewarded by the creative process and your connection with the people who believe in you. You have to be driven and extremely passionate though. I chose never to give up despite the many challenges, some of which are highlighted in my blog post ’7 things to know before you quit your job’. It has not been easy. But I have also had incredible support.

Over the past few months, I had been focusing more on publishing, and now on promoting my book than on actually writing. However, I have not stopped writing. I find myself doing exactly what I used to do before – writing on napkins, receipts and on notes in my phone. I realize that even with my crazy launch schedule, I need to make time in my work week for writing as this is essentially my core product and the best way to connect with my readers and gain a new audience.

I am a writer. And writers write, right?

Life is short… Be yourself. Be confident. Own your talent.


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