I got out of snow country for a little bit and found myself sitting on a bench on the American River in Sacramento, computer on my lap, working on my 2018 Owen McKenna mystery. (The August 2017 installment is currently in the editing pipeline. More on that in a future post.)
While we are still in winter at home for another two-plus months, this river in the Central Valley was rushing with snow melt, trees were in blossom, and a thousand birds were excited about spring.
Along came a school class with an eager teacher telling her students about those birds. After they began to move on, a girl left the group and walked toward me. She was about ten years old, wore large, tortoise-shell glasses, and she looked studious. It was clear from her inquisitive look that she was very bright and engaged.
When she got near me, she looked at my laptop computer and asked, "Are you a scientist?" Her tone was one of anticipation and her face was bright with enthusiasm. Imagine how exciting it would be to meet a real-life scientist.
I said, "No, I'm a writer."
She frowned, and the corners of her mouth dropped in disappointment.
To offer a clarification that might make her feel better about my profession, I said, "I write books."
At that, confusion seemed to join with severe letdown. She scrunched up her face in wrinkled dismay. She might as well have said, 'Why on earth would anyone do something so dumb?!'
Instead, she said nothing. She turned away and walked back to her group, shoulders slumped, her body language suggesting that I'd just taken all the joy out of life.
So, writers, be prepared. Your profession may go down well with some kids. But with others... Not so much!