Friday, February 1, 2013

On being a writer

So, as you know, here I am in Los Angeles, having my "change of scenery" and it's wonderful. It's really, really wonderful. The weather is brilliant (although a little grey today), my temporary home is cute and comfortable, and I've been able to do plenty of things. I haven't been playing the tourist, except for my trip last weekend to Texas which I talked a little about on LoveCats and will probably say more about soon. Instead I've just been getting to know my neighbourhood and working my way through the various restaurants and coffee shops around here, one at a time. (I'll do a post on my favourites, foodies, I promise.)

My 'hood -- Venice Beach. The view the other direction is less . . . sophisticated. :)
One of the things I decided on the way over here, was that if anyone asked me what I did, I'd say "I'm a writer"*. Usually, that's not what I say. I talk about my "other work" and, depending on the person and the situation, I might mention that I also write. It's interesting the reactions I get from people when I do say I'm a writer or when someone else tells them. Thankfully, most of the time it's positive. But, I have to say, the most common response from people in Australia is incredulousness. "Really?" they say, as if I've announced that often like to make tiny tutus for penguins out of recycled plastic. Then, one of two things generally happens.

1. They ask me what I thought about Fifty Shades of Grey.
2. They ask me how much money I earn/how many books I've sold.

Often, both of those things occur, sometimes in different order, sometimes simultaneously if I'm talking to more than one person.

You know what I'm noticing? It's different here.

Even in shops, it's different.

People aren't incredulous, they're impressed. There's a difference.

And they ask different questions. They ask interesting and interested questions. Like:

1. What kind of writing do you do?
2. Who are you published by?
3. How do you write? (Like, what kind of routine do you have?)
4. How do you write? (Like, are you a plotter or a pantser?)
5. What did you think of Fifty Shades of Grey? (There's no escaping that one, I'm afraid.)

I'm not declaring this a scientifically valid study of the differences between Australia and the US (well, LA, really, which is different). There might be much more to it. Perhaps because I've "decided" I'm a writer while I'm here, I answer the question differently, more confidently, which prompts different responses.

Maybe it's because LA is the mecca for people wanting to pursue creative careers. (The bartender at the bar I went to in Santa Monica last week clearly belonged on primetime TV. Or a Calvin Klein billboard. *fans self at the memory*)
Emmie woz here.
The picture above is of me at The Oasis in Austin, Texas. I wrote "Emmie from Australia" on the wall with a heart and a kiss. Because if you're going to publicly claim to be a romance writer, you've got to go all the way.

More travel stories soon..

*In a little test from the universe, the first person I practiced this on was the woman I was sitting next to on the plane from Australia. We talked about my writing and various topics until, just about to disembark, she mentioned that she worked at a large IT company doing the kind of work that made her a perfect potential client. If only I'd spent that time talking about employee engagement instead of the publishing industry! I'm sure it was just sent to test my commitment to my new resolution.

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