I’ve written of this before, how the word writer feels strange on the tongue. I am, I have discovered, after all these years, a children’s writer, because I write for children every day. My written work is not always visible, it is more often audible, through toys and games, inside ebooks and mobile apps.
For years, I have tacked on the role of producer to my title. I am a writer and producer, I will say, at dinner parties and networking events. It is what you see in the sidebar of this blog and in the lines of my business card. Because producer is more marketable. It is easier explained.
At a doctor’s visit a few weeks ago (just an annual checkup), my new doctor asked me what I did for a living. Perhaps it was because I sat naked under a gown that wouldn’t stay closed, perhaps it was because she held tight to a needle and would soon draw blood, but I did not, could not, hide. I’m a writer, I said. Not a producer in sight.
She asked me what I write and I rattled off the list of preschool brands, the toys and games, and all the etceteras. Again, perhaps it was because she’d just weighed me naked, then plunked me down on that papery mat, but I went on to tell her something I rarely tell anyone. I told her I really write books.
I’m not sure what made me say this. What I really do. And what it even means to really do anything at all.
I knew what questions would come. I knew I would have to explain myself out of that hole. I would have to share awkwardly rehearsed plot synopses. I would have to answer the genre questions and the labels, explain my way through the success of Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey. Then I would have to say the words I hate saying, that, no, I am not published, and, no, you can not read my work anywhere. And my head spun thinking, Why, why, did I dig this deep? Why did I place myself here?
I wish I could say that our conversation did not go there. I wish I could say it ended and I knew what it meant to really write, that calling myself a writer is the first step in a journey of self discovery and satisfaction.
But she asked me all of those questions. I answered dutifully. She made me say ahh. She listened to my heart beat.