Five Things Not to say to an Author


What do you say when people ask what you do? Maybe it’s easy. For example: “I’m an accountant. I solve problems you didn’t know you had in ways you don’t understand.” Or if you’re a mom, maybe you say something like, “I’m a mom. Every day I resist the urge to eliminate my hair follicles while cultivating three bipeds into reasonably responsible citizens capable of administering luminescence on our cimmerian (si-MEER-ian) sphere.” Memorize that line. Try it out on people. I always wince a little when someone asks what I do. Partly because I’m not entirely certain myself what I do. So I tell them I’m a writer. Often what comes next is a sentence I don’t want to hear. In fact, here are five sentences I’ve heard in response to my occupation. Five things you should never say to an author. Ready?


1. “Cool! But what do you do for a living?”
2. “I have a great idea for a book. You write it, we’ll split the profits.”
3. “I would, like totally, like write a book if I had as much free time as you.” In my defense, writing books is as close as a man will ever come to giving birth. Ask my wife. She will say that when I write I’m moody, cranky, and I snack at odd hours.
4. “I found your book in a yard sale for a quarter. You autographed it to the guy who sold it to me.”
5. And finally, “When I retire I’m gonna write books.” That’s when I say, “When I retire I’m going to perform heart surgery.”


Well, whatever you do, do it well. And be careful that your sense of worth doesn’t come from what you do. A great way to keep on the pathway to joy is to ask, “What do I base my value and identity on?” That, my friend, is the thing we worship. When our value is based on who we are rather than whose we are, we get sidetracked. When we live for career and we’re laid off, or we live for our kids and they disappoint, we feel worthless and devastated.


But if we live for Jesus and we fail Him, He forgives us and accepts us by God’s grace. Remember that today. And the next time someone asks what you do, say, “I am trying to master the fine art of parallel parking.” Or try this: “I’m an electrician. I wire for money.”

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