Pondering How Women Writers Self Identify on Social Media

stick-family-1449578571lWcLast week I posed a question on Twitter. I asked, Women Writers of Twitter who put “mom” or “wife” in your profile, why do you do that? Besides “it’s part of who I am.” I want to understand. As you might expect, I was being judge-y about it. My best friend and I had been talking the other day, and she said in her masters degree program in public health that the male professors introduce themselves as Dr. So-and-so, or Professor So-and-so, but the professors who are women, including the department chair, introduce themselves by their first names. This irked both of us. I believe professional women need to take themselves seriously if they want others to do the same.  I wanted to understand why women writers on Twitter would make the choice to include their marital or parental status. I know some male authors might include that information, but the majority don’t. Was there something going on here?

Mostly the responses to my question were variations of “it’s part of who I am.” Which didn’t really help me understand, but I get it. People wanted to engage with my question and that was what is there for them.

And I also heard, “I wrote my profile as if it were similar to a party when someone says ‘tell me about yourself.'” I can get that.

I heard, “I’m so proud of the fam. I came from a broken home, never thought I’d have a successful marriage or happy family.” Oh. Hmm.

I heard, “When I am in public w/my fiancé, other men give me more space than when I sit alone. Wife in profile = protection?” Wow.

I also heard from a number of women who are married to people in the military. One woman said, “I can only speak for myself, but I put army wife in my bio because there’s a sort of community for military spouses, since dealing with deployment is devastating. Helps to have people who know your pain, so the bio helps us to find each other.”  I’d never, ever thought about that.

Ok, so judge-y me was clearly schooled. There are so many reasons we each identify ourselves in the ways that we do, choosing the words that we choose. For example, I have consistently called myself a writer since I was a teenager, even though I have sometimes spent years not writing. My Twitter bio reads: I’m a literary agent. I’m usually reading. Or drinking coffee. Or reading while drinking coffee. So basically, I’m letting you know that I’m an over caffeinated Lit Agent. And who really cares that I drink coffee anyway? My bio is flip and quippy. Yet I just (very proudly) celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary and I stayed home raising my children for (what felt like) a gajillion years. Why didn’t I, too, identify myself on Twitter, and hence in my social media presence, as a wife and mom?

Something was bothering me about all of this. So I put up a poll and I really learned something.

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 10.36.34 AM

It turns out, people are using social media to be social! Holy crap.

In my myopic brain, I’d assumed that unpublished writers on Twitter could only be there for one reason: to find an agent or editor. Sometimes I’m a narcissistic fool. Sometimes (sometimes!) it’s not all about me. (Every time I re-read the previous sentence I laugh out loud at myself again.)

I love that we writers have social media with which to connect to other people. Writing can be a lonely and isolating endeavor. I also love that we literary agents, over caffeinated or not, have the opportunity to connect with writers online, to get to know what is important to them, to hear their voices, share in a little of their lives, and perhaps even find a client or two. And I love that we humans can always learn new things about others, that we have the opportunity to shift our perceptions, if we just listen to other people’s stories.

Writers: How do you identify yourself? Tell me in 15 words or less.





Filed under Uncategorized

16 responses to “Pondering How Women Writers Self Identify on Social Media

  1. Check out Hillary Cinton’s Twitter profile. Love it. No shame, just facts.

    Wife, mom, grandma, women+kids advocate, FLOTUS, Senator, SecState, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, 2016 presidential candidate

  2. Hmm… Mine is all pro no personal. Children’s Author rep’d by @ErzsiDeak. A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS, A SHIVER OF SHARKS & MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN (so far). Founder of 12 x 12 challenge. Doesn’t show any of my personality. This post has really made me think about what our profiles really say about us (or not). Thanks for the food for thought!

  3. Amanda

    My profile says I write middle-grade fiction, work in public relations and bake. Like you, I’ve always been curious about women who identify themselves as “Mom” or “Wife” in their profiles. This blog certainly opened my (admittedly judge-y) eyes as well. It seems all my years in PR have taught me to be cautious about what I put out into the world about myself but, as you point out, there’s a lot to benefit from being actually social on social media!

  4. SO, I change my Twitter bio periodically. But right now it’s:

    Children’s author. Fun mom. Taller than I appear online.
    Rep’d by @StormLiterary.
    PB Grandmother Thorn (2017 @RGrovePress)
    @_allthewonders #RaisingReaders

    And I got into a loooong conversation about this with a group of male and female writer-friends yesterday. I will not drown you in it. But it was epic.

    Why do I put the mom bit in? Because my platform pre-agent, pre-pub, pre-all-that-stuff was linked to a blog about how I, as a parent who loves books, make lifestyle and activity choices that result in my kids also loving books. I’m #RaisingReaders, so I mention that I gave birth to little readers and am caring for them now. It’s my brand.

    Would I mention it if it wasn’t my brand? Maybe. Probably. I don’t know. It’s a huge part of who I am, and social media is full of phonies. I’d like to think I’d just be all the best parts of me. Including “mom.”

  5. Very interesting. I can’t remember what I put for my Twitter bio–it seems so long ago. After 6 weeks of house guests, everything seems so long ago. But I know that I have never, ever introduced myself as wife and mother, even back in the olden days when I was Highly Religious and thought of those roles as practically a Calling from God. I never wanted to do that female thing of identifying myself by my relationship with someone else. So…my
    Twitter bio should say writer, clinical psychologist, watercolorist, hypnotist. Maybe it does. I’ll have to check.

  6. angie9091

    My twitter bio: “Writer, reader, science geek, psychologist, cyclist, and obsessive crafter”

    I do use twitter as a professional venue to help me connect with the wider writerly world. (And, yes, snagging an agent would be great, too.) I didn’t list wife or mother because, well, it just didn’t seem relevant. I started in academia, though, where there is still a pretty strong stigma still so I think I’m more sensitive to it than most.

  7. …author, educator, New Orleans native, world traveler, military spouse, chocolate lover, tennis player, family historian

    Why did I include “military spouse” in my Twitter profile? If you’ve “been there done that”, you know, to all others shows “I get shit done.”

  8. Carrie Finison

    This is my Twitter profile. Will you accept 16 words?
    Writer of picture books, poetry, curriculum materials, educational software design specifications, and lists. Many, many, lists.

    Interesting poll. I think that writing is a profession that bleeds into all aspects of life. It feels intertwined with everything. There’s never a time when I’m NOT writing or thinking about writing, or at the very least wishing I were writing. Same thing with parenting. (OK – sometimes I wish I WEREN’T parenting).

    I just started following Colby Sharp on Twitter after seeing him speak at an SCBWI conference this weekend, and I love that his Twitter profile says “dad” and “husband.” It makes as him seem human and relatable.

  9. JEN

    Here’s how I look at it:

    Raising kids is not one full-time career, but two full-time careers. One career is to somehow earn enough money to pay the bills, and the other has to somehow be on hand for the kids 24/7. You can split the duties 50-50, but my hubby and I decided from the very beginning that he would take the income earning career and I’d take the homemaking career. So when I say I’m a Homemaker, it’s the same as my hubby posting his day job. A mom is who I am (which I don’t often post), but a homemaker is what I do as a professional (which I proudly post).

    So in 15 words or less I’m: Homemaker, Picture Book Writer, SCBWI Volunteer, and Freelance Editor.

    • JEN

      Reading back over this, I don’t want anyone to get the idea that Homemaking is ALL I do. Just like any career, homemakers get vacations, breaks, and even (unpaid) retirement. But I will never stop being a mom, of course.

  10. 15 words? “I’m a funny writing and illustrating geek goddess. Wanna laugh and geek out with me?” How’s that?

  11. WOW, I never thought to include Mom or Wife in my profile of who I am! That is part if me but those part change over time. My soul never changes,
    I am always what I have been … A sentimental, heart wide-open writer, adventurer, rebel, loner, wanderer, dreamer, believer in the impossible.

  12. Wow, this made me sit up and think a bit. When I put up my bio I did it quick, and threw in some things that described me. The bio on my blog did mention my kids. They’re still young and are a major part of my live, which is probably why I put them in. Some days it seemed as if that was all I did. My bio has since disappeared (I don’t know why and I’m still trying to figure out how to get it back) but now I’m going to have to think about how I want to represent myself professionally.

  13. I suppose it’s about definitions for me. A profile is who I am. A bio is an account of my life. Most people get married and have children. If someone adopts hospice babies for example, parental status says a lot about the unique qualities of the person, otherwise, not so much. My profile is something along the lines of: I fly. I do science. I write.

  14. I think of myself as a math teacher off on a tangent of writing. I don’t know why I didn’t put that in my Twitter profile. You’ve made me stop and re-think all of this.

  15. Susan

    I was so curious when I read your question on Twitter. I interviewed around 60 people last week for a job. One question “what’s YOUR greatest accomplishment on life?” 95% of my mostly women applicants said “my children” and then were stumped when I asked “why?” (The men said “my marriage” which I thought was strange, too.) The ones who said something good else started with “I guess I should say my children first…” Maybe they worried another woman would judge them if they didn’t say their children and family were their highest priority in life?