The Glamorous Life of a Freelance Writer

My little sister thinks I’m just like a character out of Sex in the City, based on the fact that I’m a writer. Apparently she thinks I drink a lot of martinis, write when the mood strikes me and generally have quite the glamorous life. I may have snorted the water I was drinking out my nose when she described what she thought I did all day. I’m neither glamorous or particularly graceful.

Most days, I thoroughly enjoy my work. But I have a hard time getting the fact that it is work across to certain friends and family. I don’t make all of my income from one casual weekly column — and don’t ask me how Carrie Bradshaw can live on the income that one newspaper column provides. I don’t go to fancy parties, bars, fashion shows or even anywhere outside of my office most days.

There are a few moments that my choice of careers has felt pretty glamorous. I’ve gotten to interview best-selling authors, meet several of my heroes and even be recognized in public on the basis of the little photo that runs with my bio. All that does balance out the days where I wind up pounding on the keyboard for hour after hour.

I’ve tried to explain this to my sister, along with every new acquaintance who says, “A writer? Really? That’s so cool!” Sometimes I get the point across. Sometimes I’m left with someone thinking that I’m more glamorous than I really am. And I have to admit, I don’t mind have a job that’s more glamorous than I am.

Have you run into this issue? Has television (or anything else) colored the opinions of what people think you do all day?


  1. Yo Prinzel   •  

    I say we all get together and agree to make freelance writing sound a lot more glamorous than it is. Let them think we drink martinis in our Manolos all day while eking out 500 words about sex. That will give us something to smile about as we write yet another article explaining the different annuity payout options.

  2. thursday   •     Author

    I’m with you on that one. At least, if people assume we’re wearing fancy shoes we don’t have to feel guilty about wearing sweats all day!

  3. Isao   •  

    Luckily (?) I got the opposite problem; my friends think I chose the most boring job in the world: technical writer. As soon as I explain my job “I write user manuals” they change the topic of the conversation or rush for another drink (if you watch the first 10 minutes of Mission:Impossible 3, you’ll get my point).

    But actually technical writing, or more precisely, mapping information, provides a rich assortment of brain activities that are invisible but tangible to us cube-dwellers and introverts. Well, defending my position leads to nowhere so I keep a smile and my friends assume I am doing fine. Which is true.

  4. P.S. Jones   •  

    My friends and I love Sex and the City but I had to bust their bubble and let them know that even if Carrie wrote a daily column for the New York Star, she probably makes like 20K a year (if that). Certainly not enough for $600 shoes, Cosmos and rent in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

    I’ve found that my friends and family either think I live an exciting, fantabulous life or that I’m unemployed and waiting for my welfare check. Either way, I just don’t have the time to keep explaining that there’s a happy middle somewhere.

  5. Mark   •  

    The second I mention I’m a writer people get this look of pity and confusion, followed by the inevitable “what do you write about?” I deflect the question (talking about my writing is like listening to a mother talk about her child…I won’t stop and you won’t care) and move the conversation elsewhere. It’s a great filter: sincere listeners will invariably direct the conversation back to my writing, at which point I’m happy to oblige.

    And why is it that male writers on film are always the eccentric men with crazy hair and scruffy beards whereas you women are portrayed as hip. I’m hip… *stares at beard and shaggy hair*

  6. thursday   •     Author

    @Isao, While your friends may not understand how enjoyable technical writing can be, it’s their loss — congratulations on finding a career that you enjoy.

    @P.S. It’s incredibly depressing how little Carrie would actually be making, isn’t it? I’ve had my parents ask me if I can afford ramen on occasion. I think I prefer the glamorous lifestyle…

    @Mark, Male writers do get it rough on TV, now that I think about it. The most normal example I can think of is Billy Crystal in ‘Throw Momma From the Train,’ and that’s reaching back pretty far.

  7. Yo Prinzel   •  

    My fave male writer in a movie is Albert Brooks in “Mother.”

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