At the Screenwriters' Festival 2008, here's how I introduced myself to people, when they asked what I did: "I'm a writer."
Much simpler. Much less painful. And I haven't made this switch because I think I've made some kind of grand transformational progress in the intervening 12 months (although it's been good, thanks for enquiring). I haven't reached some magical upper echelon where people are suddenly allowed to describe themselves as "a screenwriter". Here's the thing, which is only my opinion, of course: if we describe ourselves as aspiring screenwriters, or apprentice screenwriters, or unproduced screenwriters, or screenwriters who only get the chance to write between 9pm and 11pm when we're knackered, then (a) we sound like we're denigrating ourselves, making excuses; and (b) many of the people we're talking to will mentally file us away under "newbie" or, worse, "amateur".
Perception is vital. No matter what level we've reached, we're aspiring to the next. That's a given, and I don't believe we need to point it out any more.
If you write, you're a writer. End of story. No excuses, no pointless qualification of the facts. We're writers and we work incredibly hard, using our big old brains in so many different ways, for potentially little or no reward, soaking up different degrees of rejection like a sponge and moving onwards with an unstoppable shark-like grace. So many people are happy to diminish and downplay our power and achievements: let's not aid their cause with our opening sentences to a potentially career-changing new contact.
So next time someone asks what you do, utter your job title with confidence and a soupcon of pride.
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