I've been asked recently, several times, that patronising question when I've been out with the husband (after they establish what the MAN does, of course). I've gone from somewhere 'I used to be...but now I'm...' (psychologist/lecturer to kept woman/layabout) to somewhere else. 'Oh, I'm a novelist'. When did that happen? Somehow, with absolutely no real justification, I'm boldly announcing I'm an author, without even thinking about it.
My theory (there has to be a theory, I used to be a psychologist) is that having actually finished and polished a book to a certain level, the incontrovertible truth is there - I wrote a novel, ergo, I am a novelist. I write, more or less 9-5, therefore I am a writer. I create new stories out of my imagination, so I am an author of novels. Why has this been difficult to say? Back in 2010 I was starting to challenge my difficulty about using the word 'writer', as I reinvented my self concept before having to include 'MA student'. I suppose my identity has been so bound up in 'mother', for so long, I kind of lost 'me'. Because I have never stopped writing, just stopped expecting anyone to read anything I had written. Now I'm throwing it out there and more or less making people read it!
Now I say 'I'm a novelist' and I'm working on answering question 2 and 3, when they say: 'Oh, how interesting, what kind of books do you write? What's your book about?' That's when the stammering starts...I must work on my pitch.