The starving writer

Ballpoint pen writing. Streaks of ink are visi...
Ballpoint pen writing. Streaks of ink are visible on the ball, indicating the direction of rotation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dentists don’t have this problem. Maybe I should have been a dentist. Or an accountant. Accountants don’t get asked these questions. Our expectations are low for accountants.

I made the fatal error of sharing in my online dating profile that I am a writer. And I haven’t been able to have a decent restaurant meal ever since.

I’ve just started dipping my toe back into the dating waters after a divorce. So hard to give men a sense of who I am without revealing too much up front. So instead of going into grand detail letting them know I’m a marketing executive, creative writer and journalist—I just settled on “freelance writer,” at least at first.

I’ve since learned the error of my ways.

As it turns out, just about everyone on planet Earth either thinks of themselves as a writer or has a very definite idea of what a writer’s life is like.

I knew I was in trouble on a recent date when the man I sat across the table from revealed he had recently self-published a book. Stifling a groan, I simply said, “Oh, how nice for you.” And tried to take a bite of my salad.

“Don’t you want to know what it’s about?” he asked.

I smiled politely, put down my fork, and said, “Sure,” as convincingly as I could.

I do not want to sound like a literary snob but this man was not a writer by trade. I could also tell he was one of those types who think writing involves a lot of navel-gazing and angst. Possibly a black turtleneck and stormy days. I had met plenty of those guys in college and it’s one of the main reasons I never dated a fellow English major. The journalism guys—now they were another story for another time. Fun. But I digress.

After he told me about his book, he asked me what I was writing. As he realized it was a blog and an article for a business magazine, he looked crestfallen. “Do you write anything else?” he asked, in a hopeful tone. “Sure,” I said. His face brightened. “Style, fashion, beauty, women’s health,  parenting, travel and entertainment.” Back to crestfallen his face went.

He was hoping to meet the modern-day Emily Dickinson. Buddy, take a creative writing class. Don’t ask women who say they’re writers on dating sites out to dinner. It’s like trying to find imported beer in a redneck bar. The two don’t mix.

I left without finishing my salad, as he then wanted to pick my brain about new book ideas. Went home hungry and a bit cranky.

Not all men are looking for sturm und drang, however. My next date was a burly, adventurous type who was delighted when he found out I was a freelance journalist and had written for a few major metropolitan dailies.

As I was about to taste my scallops, he stopped me. “Wait, have you ever seen any real action? “

At first, I was a little alarmed at what he was asking—and then it hit me. “You mean in a war zone?” I asked.

“Yeah, yeah—like Afghanistan or Bosnia.”

Oh Lord, give me patience.

“I’m not a war correspondent,” I explained, gently. “And most of those people are now in broadcasting. I write features. On lighter topics.”

When he realized I’d never been at possible risk for beheading by terrorists, he actually looked disappointed.

His response was lackluster. And then, just as the scallop was an inch from my mouth, he said, “Have you ever had to try anything poisonous for a travel story or had malaria?”

Sigh. I put down my fork. “No.”

Short of discussing the latest fashion trends or how our energy reserves are impacting the world economy, two topics I should have been home writing about, I was done. As he prattled on about his latest deal at work, I sat and pondered whether to eat the cold scallops. I did—and had a bit of a bad stomach the next day.

I think before my next date, I’ll have dinner on my own. Just in case.

Or, I’ll tell them I’m in real estate.


8 Comments Add yours

  1. Tracie Louise says:

    I know exactly how you feel. My official title is “Freelance Photographer” or so it says on my business cards. I know that people think this when I hand them my card, but I actually had one person say to my face.. “yes, you and every girl with an iPhone”. I can’t even tell you how offended I was. I have spend years and thousand upon thousands to hone my craft and to then get compared to anybody with an iPhone and an Instagram account. My hubby has also self-published two novels. He is an engineer by trade, but it was always his dream (and mine) to be published. So what makes a person a writer? Guess that depends on your point of view.

    1. candidkay says:

      I hear you. I do think some people are born with natural talent–but usually those who are become actual writers, teachers, editors, etc. Doesn’t mean others aren’t talented–I just think it’s rarer than most people think. Same for photographers–I know. I’ve known some with a true eye and technical ability–and others pale in comparison. Regardless of title, I think we all know true talent when we see it.

      1. Tracie Louise says:

        Very true 🙂

  2. andmorefood says:

    your posts are hilarious! and so sad at the same time :p some men are pretty much hopeless – I hope you keep going and find a man who’s not so much a blockhead 😀

  3. Lee says:

    Well, at least they were polite to you. I had the experience once, at a dinner table for about eight people, of having a stranger (on hearing what I do for a living) declare “I hate journalists; they are all liars”. I was gobsmacked at the rudeness and the ignorance. His wife was mortified. I maintained my dignity and told him I’d heard it all before and wouldn’t get into any discussion about the merits of my profession with him. What did he do? He was a bus driver. Nothing wrong with that, but I don’t think he’d ever actually met a journalist before. Years later, it still rankles. But at least it wasn’t a date!! I feel your pain. Writing and/or journalism seems to be something that everyone thinks they could do…if they wanted to. Easy.

    1. candidkay says:

      I hear you, Lee! I had a dentist tell me how she thought she would just bang out a book in a weekend–because how hard could it be? And I wanted to tell her–but I didn’t:).

      1. Lee says:

        I suppose it also depends on how good you want the book to be!

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