Our mail usually arrives around the time I leave the house, so I often take it right out of the mail carrier's hands. It's a different person most of the time, and today it was an older gentleman.
"Any GOOD mail? Or just junk like usual?" I joked.
"Hmm...here's a magazine!" he replied, sifting through his boxes.
"Probably one of my roomates' tennis mags," I grumbled. Then I saw that it was Poets & Writers. "Oh! It's one of mine! I'm the writer in the house, and my roommates are athletes," I explained.
"Wow, you make your living as a writer?" the mailman asked.
I preened a bit. "Yes I do," I declared, not bothering to add that I also work at a book publishing company AND teach two composition classes. "I write for several local publications."
"That's great," he said. "I used to be a writer. I wrote about sports. But I got married and had children and I couldn't make a living for my family at it. So I became a mail carrier! Good luck with your writing!"
I couldn't decide whether I felt amused or discouraged as he drove off. I didn't share the fact that I, too, can't make a living totally as a freelance writer. Instead, I let him think that I do. It got me thinking: Are most writers like that? Either juggling a bunch of jobs or switching careers to something secure like mail delivery in order to support the family, but still telling people that they're a writer?
Years ago I was out with my friend Gayden who works as a nurse, when a bunch of other nurses that knew her asked me if I was a nurse too.
"Heck no. I'm a writer," I said without missing a beat. And back then I was in graduate school! I hardly wrote at all--and I definitely didn't write for money to speak of.
So it seems that, no matter WHAT we writers end up doing with our lives, we remain writers, eager to share our stories with whomever chats us up at the bar or hands us our mail. The rest is just...filler.