I realize the question is for me. I turn away from the airplane window to the woman on my right, who is studying my face intently. Several hours ago, we’d exchanged pleasantries and I’d mentioned that I was a writer.
“No, not a novelist,” I say.
She and her husband both look terribly disappointed.
“What do you write, then?” she wants to know.
“Whatever people will pay me to write,” I say. “I’ve written for magazines, papers—”
The husband perks up considerably. “Anything we’ve heard of?”
“Uh, well, let’s see. I wrote for the Boston Globe, the Sunday Magazine,” I say. “And I’ve done a lot of marketing materials.”
He nods, but he is not impressed. I am seriously wishing I had ordered the gin and tonic.
“But no book?” says the wife.
“No book. I write plays, though. And poetry. But they don’t pay the mortgage.”
“No. I imagine they wouldn’t,” says the wife.
The husband clears his throat. “So…are you part of a pool? A team of writers?”
I just want to read my book, the book on my lap, the book written by a real writer. I want that gin and tonic very, very, very badly. “No, no team. I have a parenting blog, and what work I do find often comes through that. But there’s not a lot of work right now. Freelancers are in a tough spot.”
They continue staring at me, as if I am an exotic zoo specimen, and they are not quite sure they like what they see.
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