Writer vs Architect – The Perils of a Two Headed Monster
I attended a charity event last night and as always happens when a group of strangers are gathered in any space and forced to communicate, people began to ask each other what they do for a living. Pretty straightforward question, right? Yes, I am an architect by profession and should gladly saunter around rooms sharing this piece of information with anyone who has five seconds to spare (after eight years of studying to qualify as one, who wouldn’t?). But as you all know, I carry two heavy heads on my not so sturdy shoulders. I had been specially prepped by my companion for the night (a.k.a my sister/unofficial agent) to respond “writer” and not “architect”. Why? Because as a “writer” I need more exposure than I do as an “architect”. And partly because writer sure as hell sounds more interesting than architect – at least I think it does. I’m also, admittedly, more passionate about writing than I am about building design. Architecture has been a big part of my life for fifteen years, writing – over twenty years! I don’t go to bed thinking about what detail to add to the building project I’m working on but I stay up into the wee hours of the morning typing out ideas or staring up at the ceiling trying to piece a plot together for my novels. I don’t walk around London taking note of designs and sketching details but I write on the tube, on the bus, waiting for a friend to arrive at a venue…you get the picture. Writing is a part of who I am. Architecture is my job.
But last night, the first five or so people I spoke with received the slightly meek response of “architect” as I glanced around the room filled with high achievers, politicians and celebrities. My brain couldn’t quite bring itself to say the word – writer. I’m self-published and haven’t sold a million books (yet) so despite all I have achieved in my writing career (novels/novellas, dozens of short stories) I’m not used to introducing myself as a writer. These days the stigma of not being picked up by a publishing house is long gone (Fifty Shades of Grey and a multitude of other books have helped to dispel this) but a lot of people still ask who you’re with and I find it a bit tiring to explain my chosen route. Even worse, when I finally managed to squeak out the word “writer” to one girl, I got asked for my business card and I had to admit I had none. I think I hung my head in shame for a little while after that.
One of the girls I revealed my writing abilities suggested I call myself an “author” if I though that “writer” didn’t quite fit the bill. After all, a writer can be anyone who writes anything, from a blogger to a copywriter. But an author is generally regarded as someone who has written and published some form of literary work. I’d never really considered myself as an author, always a writer, but as I heard her words, I felt a new sense of ownership wash over me. I have five novels/novellas out for sale that over a thousand people have actually paid good money for and have reviewed positively. Why the hell should I not want to share that with people? So I’m off to go get my business card, T-shirt and banner printed…okay, I’m not quite there yet. Baby steps. But as from today I will try to start introducing myself as an Author and Architect. After all, if I don’t claim it, who will?