Have you Been Writing? It’s Complicated

Catherine Lanser
3 min readFeb 12, 2021

Avoiding an oft-asked question and figuring out the real answer

Photo by BBH Singapore on Unsplash

Although 2020 has kept me away from loved ones more than usual, as a self-proclaimed writer, I still get the same question no matter how long it has been when I see one of my fans.

“Have you been writing?”

These “fans” are, of course, my elderly relatives who don’t follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or read my blog. If they did, they’d know probably more than they want.

When they ask me this question, they really mean, do you have anything I can read? And the truth is, I don’t. It’s been a while since I’ve had anything published. When I do, I send them a copy and they force all my other relatives to read it.

Just because I haven’t sent them anything recently doesn’t mean I’m not writing. It’s just that writing is more than writing.

Remember the Good Old Days?

For a while, I was on a bit of a hot streak in my fan’s eyes. I was submitting my essays to anthologies, and they were getting printed. That little streak happened after years and years of submitting the same essay, rewriting it, and submitting it to another anthology. Finally, it was accepted. Then, magically, others followed after I developed a relationship with an editor who liked my style.

Now, years later, that publisher doesn’t exist anymore. I’ve changed my strategy for getting published, which means I’m back to submitting more and seeing my work in print less. I also am working on the other things that professionals have to do that have nothing to do with craft. I’m networking with other writers and joined the board of my statewide writing organization. Since it isn’t writing, exactly, I’ve never mentioned it when one of my fans asks me about writing.

Though I’m tight-lipped around these elderly relatives, I fear I share too much with others in the writing community through social media and my blog. We all do, needing to remind ourselves that there is hope and there are others like us.

But What Really Counts?

And I compulsively track every bit of effort made toward my writing goals. I receive a weekly email telling me how productive I was…



Catherine Lanser

Narrative nonfiction and memoir. Querying my memoir about my family, told through the lens of brain tumor.