Friday, August 21, 2009

What Do You Do?

Yesterday in Barnes and Noble:

Random Man in Blue Hat sits down in empty chair next to a woman who is not drinking coffee and reading ten books at once. Among her books are a whopping new translation of 'Anna Karenina', Philippa Gregory's brand new, 'The White Queen' and Shirley Hazzard's 'Greene on Capri'.

Random Man in Blue Hat: "So what do you do?"

Priya: (also in blue hat) "Ummmm"

Random Man in Blue Hat: (Picking up Anna Karenina), "So you like Dostoevsky?"

That let me off the hook.

First of all, only in Los Angeles do people use that as an opening line. Not clever nor subtle, just a bald 'are you worth talking to' kind of question. Yuck. I did not know how to answer. I have written a book that is going to be published--so I will be a writer? I hate this question.

At Edinburgh, for years I lived with writers. Four comedy writers who wrote together: Jack, Jamie, Ewen and Dan. It was happy, noisy and very, very funny. When we all moved down to London I remember another friend asking Jamie what he planned to do now. "Write comedy," Jamie answered blithely. No hesitation, prevarication or deliberation. That was what they planned and wanted and so that was his answer. I love that.

It is somehow a trickier question for me. The two times in this very visually-oriented city I have ventured so far as to say that I write (using the verb and not the declarative structure of the noun), the person has responded with "Have I seen any of your movies?" Definitely tricky.


  1. You are a writer so you'll just have to say so. And the next time the movie question comes up, just tell them the rights are for sale at the right price x

  2. you are a wonderful badger and i love you xx


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