Yesterday I attended a literary luncheon for the witty, wonderful Emma Donaghue, whose new book The Wonder I can't wait to read. As Emma spoke I scribbled notes in my bullet journal to share with fellow writers and students. During the lunch, I remarked to a woman sitting at the table that I'd been taking notes because I, too, am a writer.
Rude question number 1: "Have you published anything?"
me: "Yes actually, let me think, FIFTEEN BOOKS."
Rude question number 2: "And you actually make a living from that?"
me: *starting to explode internally but still being my mother's daughter externally* "Well yes. I can't afford to do this without making a living from it. I have a family to support."
Said woman was a career woman herself - finance apparently. It just makes it all the more insulting and infuriating that she would ask me such rude questions.
Of course, as any creative person knows, this isn't the first time I've been subjected to this line of questioning from random strangers at a social event. The same people who wouldn't DREAM of asking a hedge fund person they don't know "Are you beating the indices this year?" or a heart surgeon "What's the survival rate of your patients" in a social setting, feel they are entitled to treat those of us engaged in creative pursuits with absolutely no respect.
I won't pretend that making a living from creativity is easy. It is HARD, HARD work. I wrote ten books in three years - not to mention countless political columns and some essays, and I also taught creative writing to kids and was an adjunct in an MFA program. To put it bluntly, I worked - and continue to work - my freaking ass off. But I am doing what I love and am completely passionate about, and that is what makes the difference. When I worked in Finance, working this hard felt like work. I enjoyed my job, found it interesting, and I learned a great deal, but I wasn't passionate about it.
I'm beyond tired of creatives being the Rodney Dangerfields of the career world.
The next time you open your mouth to ask a writer, artist or singer a rude question, ask yourself if you'd ask it of your investment advisor or orthopedic surgeon. If you wouldn't, please close your mouth.