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When I first started making my living as a writer I LOVED it when people asked me what I did for a living. My response, "I'm a writer", would leap out of my mouth, sometimes even jumping in front of the question that prompted it. I was giddy, because it was the first time in my life that I felt suitably matched with my career. Having to say, "I'm a web producer but..." or "I kill dogs with surgical hammers, and I'm also..." didn't have the same stopping power as "I'm a writer, so now, bitch." I have friends who have told me they feel like phonies when their response to the "what do you do" question is "I'm a comedian" or "I'm an actress" or "I'm a prostitute" when their real wage-earning comes from being a waitress or a temp or an associate prostitute. I was like that, too, when I divided my career between something I hated/didn't identify with at all and writing. Ever since I began earning my money exclusively as a writer I was happy to answer the question.

However, soon I discovered a snag: I felt like an asshole. Actually, allow me to shift the blame. I was made to feel like an asshole. And why? Because NO ONE believes you when you say you're a writer and leave it at that. If you say "I cut meat up for old people", everyone is satisfied with the answer. However, when you tell someone you're a writer there's always a follow-up question. Something like, "OK, but how do you make money? You suck dick, right? You can tell me - I'm your grandfather." Either that or "well, what do you write?", which is another way of saying, "do you think you're better than me because you learned how to write?" It's exhausting. I seriously think people believe I'm lording it over them, as if I just told them I was a zillionaire.

So, to defuse this inevitable discomfort, when people ask me what I write, I just tell them I write coupons. Only coupons. 15 cents off? That was mine. It's competitive, though, and fiercely so. You get to live off the success of your "15 cents off" line for a little while, until someone younger, more ambitious, and better looking comes up with "16 cents off." But I have something else up my sleeve - an un-trumpable card waiting for the right moment: "Eleventy cents off." Yes, I am a writer. Yes I am.

WE FIRST MET ON 10.10.2002

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