#ThrowbackThursday – “So, what do you write?”

Today’s Throwback Thursday post comes from August 2010 (before my first book was published) and – like many of my early posts – didn’t have any comments. In fact, it barely had any readers, which is why I wanted to install this feature – as a writer, it hurts when people don’t read what I’ve written. I don’t necessarily want everyone to like what I’ve written, just to read it. Anyway, here’s the post…


“So, what do you write?”

I hate that question.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t wander up to random people in the street and say, “I’m a writer, don’t you know?”, but sometimes it comes up in conversation that I like to write. Usually it’s because the question has already been, “What do you do?”, and when I tell people that I work part-time (14 hours per week), they wonder – aloud and incredulously – what I do with the rest of my time. And I feel compelled to tell them that I write.

aj-books-2-300pxThen the question is, “So, what do you write?”

They ask probably because it’s expected, to show an interest, and that’s great. I’m not knocking the question. I’m knocking my reply… which is always, “Er… stories, modern stuff, um… just stuff…. er, I like to have a few murders.”

“So, you write crime?”

“Er, no… it’s…”

I admit that I’m not very articulate for a writer. These poor people turn away at this point, mentally patting my head and saying, “Well, good for you.”

The reason I’m thinking about this question this morning is that last week I wrote the word surreal on this blog [my previous blog] and the more I’ve thought about it, the more that seems to sum up my work. It’s also a word that defies further explanation, so from now on that will be my answer!

Since 2010, I’ve settled on the tag of Contemporary Stories with a Hint of Paranormal. Of course, then I started writing stories that weren’t paranormal. So, I may have to go back to the drawing board again!


Do you struggle with this question?

Are you a genre writer? Does that make it easier to explain?

12 thoughts on “#ThrowbackThursday – “So, what do you write?”

  1. I do struggle with this question – and every time I mentally kick myself, because if someone bothers to ask about our writing we really should try to make it sound interesting enough that they might think about reading some of it.


  2. Hi Annalisa – oh I can quite see your challenge … I write .. but I blog – and that defeats everyone even further … and what does that cover – well everything from 4.5 billion years ago to today .. and it does – but I must get myself a better catchphrase or concept for 2017 … I also struggle to remember what I’ve written about … eclectic is a great word .. but perhaps not the best for a blog – yet I feel happy with it … what comes up next is anyone’s guess.

    I’ve been reading your book “That Sadie Thing” .. and your stories are a delight – with twists and turns … I’ll finally get a review done … and you’ve done so well in 2016 – with the Costa Short Story Award – a great fillip for you. Here’s to many more …

    Cheers Hilary


  3. I tend to mumble too because I’m not in one genre. Poems, memoir, humor, stories. And it sounds very high and mighty to declare “I write about the human experience”. I also think my writing is more a scribble!!


  4. I think that it is slightly easier having a genre. I usually just say that I write fantasy.
    If anyone asks me anything more in depth after that, I sometimes struggle.
    It depends on how far along I am in my current work in progress as to how much.
    If I have been working on project for a while, I can describe it far better than I can a relatively new project.


    1. You probably find that general readers/friends are happy with ‘fantasy’. Writers always want to know more πŸ™‚ If I’ve just started a new project, my usual answer is “I have no idea” πŸ™‚


  5. I recently had a conversation with my husband about this. That I need to come up with a better strategy when talking to people about my writing. I struggle answering that question too, especially as a new writer that is still learning, and that hasn’t nailed down a specific genre yet. I have ideas for many different genres (horror, sci-fi, romance, middle grade, children’s, mystery…) and I’d like the chance to try my hand at all of them. I’ve already written a couple novels (unpublished so far) and several short stories that didn’t make the cut for different contests and publications. So when I’m asked that question, I have a very unsure answer about how “I’m trying” and that usually leaves people uninterested.


  6. I write science fiction and fantasy–that’s usually enough for most people who ask the question off-hand. More in-depth answers used to be harder for me, especially when they asked about my latest release or my current WIP, because I either felt like I was overwhelming them with information, or not framing it clearly enough, or not making it sound as interesting as it is to me.

    Now, I generally try to sum things up briefly. “I’m currently working on a fantasy trilogy filled with magic and demons.” Or “My latest release was a retelling of the selkie myth, and included in an anthology my writers’ group assembled.” Then I hold my tongue unless they ask me to elaborate further, because I love talking about my stories and can find it difficult to know when to stop!


    1. Ha, yes! Knowing when to stop talking is just as important. I like your style – hook them, then leave them to be curious πŸ™‚

      I’m always cagey with WIPs because they have a habit of turning into entirely different stories, if I’m not careful!


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