“Are you still a Brain Surgeon?”


As you all know, now and then I air my pet peeves, so here goes.

There is a phenomenon that I have encountered for a long time, years, which I always take personally, has irritated me considerably, and I figured that people just do to me to be annoying. I just discovered that I am not the only one it happens to, and I think it is something that only men do to only women, and not just to me.

It goes like this, I run into a man I know or meet at a dinner party for the first time in a long time. After hello, they open with, “So, are you still writing?” Hmmm…..this immediately suggests to me that they have not read the NY Times (bestseller list) in many years, the Wall Street Journal, or maybe they don’t read at all. Yes, I am STILL writing. What this does is that it immediately puts my writing into the category as a hobby. As in, are you still taking piano lessons, doing macrame, have a parrot? I don’t have a huge ego about my work, but let’s face it, for me it is a job. A job I love, and I have been doing it since I was 19 years old. I have been in the Guinness book of world records repeatedly for having a book on the bestseller list for more weeks consecutively than whoever. Yes, for Heaven’s sake, I am still writing. It’s my work, my job, how my family eats and went to college. People said that comment to me when I was 35. Now when they say it, I get even more insulted because I think they’re suggesting I must be too old to write, but it’s actually not about that. (And I’m not that old yet). The comment is an immediate put down. It is a way of suggesting that what I do is really not very important. Women NEVER ask me that question. But SOME men do. The men who do, I find, are VERY uncomfortable about my success at what I do, and VERY annoyed by it. The other really ridiculous comment is “You have an AGENT?” Of course I have an agent, I have written 130 books that are sold in 69 countries in 43 languages—they think maybe I write letters by hand and send them to publishers around the world to sell my books? Of course I have an agent (a fabulous one I love). I never say to guys, “So are you still a lawyer?…A doctor?…A brain surgeon?” They would think I’m nuts if I did. But men who are annoyed by women’s success in business have to find a way to put them down. And what better way to insult someone than minimize what they do, imply that it’s really insignificant, and inquire if they’re still doing it? Are you still bungee jumping off your mother’s roof?? Having contests to see how many grapes you can squeeze into your mouth?? (That was so much fun when I was about 8). I was actually a pogo stick champion when I was about 10, and no I am not doing that anymore. But YES, I AM STILL WRITING. In fact, I finished a book about an hour ago. It is SUCH a dumb question coming from an intelligent person. If you walk into a bookstore, open a newspaper, or whatever, you can see that I am ‘still’ writing. The worst form of that was at a dinner party I went to years ago. I sat down, I smiled at the man next to me and I’m a shy person, and he barked at me, “Who do you think you are?” Was that a trick question? No it was a man who was so uptight about what I’ve accomplished that he needed to be insulting before he even met me, to make himself feel better. The other comment men like to make is another winner “My maid just loves your books”. Really, well thank God for her. There are LOTS of men who DON’T have an issue with women being successful in business, but unfortunately some who do. I love talking to men who aren’t threatened by women who work, do it well, and do well at it. It’s a pleasure to talk to them. But the ones with a chip on their shoulder really are a bore and not much fun.

I think some people are threatened if one is enterprising or has many/varied interests. I studied design in college and went to design school as well as NYU. And I still do interior design to this day. I had a contemporary art gallery for 5 years. I do some art pieces myself, and have recently started selling them in 2 galleries. I curate contemporary art shows for a gallery in San Francisco. I began writing song lyrics 2 years ago with 3 composers in France, and am now signing for an album of those songs. Doing different things keeps life fun, but that threatens some people too, which really is too bad. Is it jealousy? Or just bad manners? When I opened my gallery, a man I know (though not well enough for him to insult me) said, “Well, we always knew you were crazy, now you’ve proven it.” Why would ANYONE say something like that? I sure wouldn’t. And women don’t make those comments to other women. Unfortunately, some men do.

This is stuff I have lived with and put up with for many years since my first book got published in my early 20’s. But I was speaking to a woman tonight, a good friend and she started a business a few years ago, and now SHE is getting those same comments. And that suddenly made me realize that it’s not about me, it’s about men who don’t like women getting out there, doing something new or innovative and accomplishing something. Why are we not just in the kitchen cooking? (In my case, because I’m a terrible cook!!) The friend I was speaking to is a very talented interior designer, and has been successful at it for many years. A few years ago, 3 or 4, she decided to do something completely different, and she started a shoe company. Unbelievably brave, to do something that far afield from what you normally do. In order to start it intelligently, she traveled to Viet Nam, China, Brazil, and more recently Mexico to learn more about production. In the past 3 years she has traveled to China constantly, learned all about production, and has produced some VERY nice shoes that are now selling well. Now SHE is getting those same snotty comments from men who are annoyed by what she’s doing. I personally am floored by the guts and creativity she had, I wouldn’t know how to start a shoe company, and I would be scared to death to travel all over the world to figure out how to make a shoe. But she’s done it, and it’s a great shoe line, she’s selling them in good stores, in the US, and now even in one of the best stores in Paris. Hats off to her!!! And she works hard at it. And how amazing to be that brave and creative. But now she is getting “Are you still doing ‘those’ shoes?” Yes, she is, and doing damn well at it, thank you.

In our conversation, we figured out that certain lines of work are considered acceptable by the men who make those comments. Interior Design is not threatening, it’s okay. Being an artist. Probably being a model, cooking, and a flight attendant. But go into business, make a product, cross the line into a business a man would do, or like to do, and you’re in trouble, and suddenly you’re a threat. We’re not trying to take jobs away from men, or make them look bad. We’re working. So are they. And if we’re selling art, or making shoes, or writing, we’re working as hard as everyone else, and deserve some respect for how hard we work. Ladies, watch out for the men who resent the kind of work you do and make nasty comments. And Gentlemen, please be nice and please don’t make those comments about our work. Give us a break. And yes, I STILL write.

love, danielle

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108 Comments so far
  1. Adriana August 5, 2013 10:27 am

    And you will write until you want.
    I hope, one day, I meet you.
    I want to be like my favorite writer!
    I love you! TU ES FANTASTIQUE!

    from Spain.

    My best wishes!

  2. P.J. August 5, 2013 2:45 pm

    This sentence cracked me up “Yes, for Heaven’s sake, I am still writing. It’s my work, my job, how my family eats and went to college.”
    I have noticed before that you are very funny when you are exasperated!
    Anyway, I think these men are simply clumsy in the social graces, are truly uninterested in what you or others do, and cannot figure out what to say to successful women. But, I get those comments from both men and women and I have several professional certifications and licenses, and have owned my own business for 10+ years-

  3. CAROL OLIVER August 5, 2013 7:06 pm

    good for you Danielle….you tell them…
    saw you on the View last week…you were very calm and not as shy…maybe because the Girls on the View are goofy…and you know Barbara so well…you looked and acted great…
    Take care…looking forward to the next new Book..
    Carol in So. Calif.

  4. IP August 5, 2013 7:30 pm

    It’s silly for somebody to ask such questions and imply all the things you’ve mentioned above, but I also think women should not compare themselves to men in terms of professional success or anything else. Despite what people think we are different. We work differently, we love differently. It has nothing to do with feminism, by the way. I think we should just embrace our differences.

  5. Janet August 5, 2013 10:24 pm

    I like when men are insulting right off the bat. They save me time. I can move to the people who are secure with themselves who are ALWAYS more pleasant to be around.

  6. Lynn August 6, 2013 1:00 am

    That’s right, you tell ’em, Miss Steel! =)

  7. Gini August 6, 2013 5:26 am

    While I don’t own a business, I do have a “best friend”. A woman who has been closer to me than most of my family since we met at the age of 17 (that was more than 30 years ago, by the way). Every now and then a man from the past will pop back into my life and, when I refer to this friend, he will say “Oh, are you two still hanging out together?”. Huh? Yes, as a matter of fact, we are still “hanging out” together. If we weren’t, neither of us would have been able to get through various marriages, deaths, work, children, illnesses or even monday mornings for God’s sake. She’s my FRIEND. That’s what friends do! They stick together.
    I’ve never in my life had another woman say this to me, only men. And I find it insulting as well. The assumption being that, now we are old hags with men in our lives we shouldn’t need each other any more? Maybe I’m reading too much into it but your post reminded me of this and I really felt your frustration.
    I know you “still write” and so does my “BFF” and we’re both grateful.

  8. Mary August 7, 2013 8:02 am

    You are funny when you vent.
    In my journey I have been around this male ego (testosterone poisoning) in all aspects of my life. Although annoying the comment is harmless, you know who you are, and so what if a man or anyone is intimidated by all your accomplishments! Shock them next time and tell them no you gave up writing and now you just sit around and watch TV.
    The only putdowns from men that would concern me are when they use them to control or dominate a person. Then when a man shows you UGLY just get away from them. I have had a strange experience where a man was so jealous of my life he sued me to take my job so he can live my life because he has no life of his own, now that is something to be concerned over.

  9. Iain Scott August 7, 2013 9:39 am

    I am a man, I completely understand as I find those types of men annoying to be around.

  10. LTF August 7, 2013 10:23 am

    I have had the similar experience with other women. One woman asked me after a mutual friend told her I was a designer and showed her my website: “Do you have a real job too?” LOL

  11. Heather August 7, 2013 10:47 am

    Love it! Misogyny still abounds in our culture (you only have to watch any Republican man speak to see it), no matter how far we’ve come. And sadly, there’s a large faction that would happily relegate women back to the kitchen and the baby-making in a heartbeat. Thanks for speaking out and calling attention to yet another subversive attempt to undermine the inherent value of women.

  12. Victoria August 7, 2013 11:00 am

    There are men as well as women who are threatened by, or jealous of, or intimidated by a woman’s success, and will make insulting comments to her face. Most, if not all, successful women have experienced this. I am no exception. Nevertheless, asking you whether you are still writing doesn’t strike me as an insult. It is a conversation opener. It is something I would probably ask you if and when I should ever meet you. No, I do not keep up with the latest best seller list or with your publishing activities specifically. So I wouldn’t know if you just published a new book or if you had stopped writing. I applaud and am very supportive of other women’s achievements, whether traditional or non-traditional. And if and when I meet such women and I am not up to date on their current activities I ask them if they are continuing to pursue their successful career because I’m genuinely interested. I ask men the same question and, yes, I will ask a male lawyer or a male doctor whether they are still lawyering or doctoring. They don’t get insulted. Most successful people I know do not have a single interest or talent. So I am not surprised, indeed I would expect, that they would either move on to other careers or find time in their lives to seriously pursue additional interests. There is also the delicate matter of age and retirement. You are in your 60’s and most people retire at that age from their careers, even successful women. Asking you whether you are still writing is a polite way of asking whether or not you have retired. I realize that many writers do not retire in the traditional way that others retire from their careers as full time employees for a company, but nevertheless one would expect that you are financially independent and can afford to retire should you wish to do so and that you have that option. Therefore, if I were a writer and in your shoes, I would not see any insult in anyone asking me if I am still writing. I would be flattered that they know I’m an author, I would give the person asking me that question the benefit of the doubt and assume they are genuinely interested in me, and I would engage in conversation with them and let them know what I have been up to lately. I have also found that the best way to deal with real insults is to assume they are compliments, if at all possible, and accept them graciously. If the person really meant to insult you it will irritate them all the more if they are perceived as actually giving you a compliment, particularly in front of others. Take it as such and run with it.

  13. Royce August 7, 2013 11:42 am

    In fairness many people hate their jobs and would gladly stop doing them if they had the option. The fact that you are getting paid to do something you love is a difficult concept for many people of both genders to understand. I guarantee if I won even the smallest poweball jackpot asking me if I was still a system admin would be a stupid question for the opposite reason, I would certainly quit.

    With that said, having thought about it writing successful writers keep writing and I would hopefully not make the faux pas of asking you if you were still writing in a condescending manner.

    I’m glad you get to do what you love, and hope you can continue doing it forever.

  14. Sara August 7, 2013 12:02 pm

    I have always had an opposite reaction when someone asks me “Are you still in advertising?” I think they’re hoping I AM still building my career, and want to know if I’m working at the same place. That’s what I intend when I ask someone if they’re “still doing x.” I’ve also heard it from plenty of women, as well as men. I thought it was a pretty standard question to receive for anyone.

    Maybe if it were in a negative tone I’d feel differently, but I read it as pure curiosity, and people ask it of my husband all the time.

  15. Ann Garvin August 7, 2013 12:46 pm

    At a dinner party a man asked what I did with my time. I said, I’m a fiction writer but my full time job is at the University of Wisconsin where I teach nutrition and exercise physiology. He said, well, that’s a big story, you’d have to have a PhD for that. I said, lucky me. I do.
    Score one for the girls.

  16. Jeff Key August 7, 2013 12:51 pm

    No matter what else I may accomplish in this life, my play about my time in Iraq as a Marine, The Eyes of Babylon will be the thing I think I’ll be most proud of on my death bed. It was successful and accomplished what I set out for it to accomplish. Even so, the man I was married to while he went to medical school continually tried to encourage me to go into OTHER fields (fire fighter, real estate, etc.). I had urged him to quit the job he hated to find something he loved. I gave him $10K to do that. He got his MD… and then returned to drinking and the man he cheated on me with. I still write. I will ALWAYS write. Yet I’d bet if you could get him drunk at a cocktail party (not hard) and ask him what he wished for me. He’d say in all smug condescension that I’d get a real job.
    I have one and it’s one that I love. I am a writer.

  17. Elizabeth Humber August 7, 2013 12:54 pm

    Hi Danielle,

    LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this article!!! I agree with you totally.

    Hope you never stop writing. I’ve read all but four of your books. Am a huge fan. Thanks for sharing yourself with us here on your blog.


  18. JW Troemner August 7, 2013 12:54 pm

    For some men, it very much is about belittling and demeaning men. I guarantee it. But I think for many of them, they don’t even realize what they’re implying when they say things like that. They’re just so thoroughly socialized to believe that women will have a career for a while and then go back to being a full time mother and housewife. And I think that’s very, very sad.

  19. Alexandra August 7, 2013 1:02 pm

    I cannot thank you enough for writing this excellent piece. I am a young female and a recent college grad finding her way in the business world, and I thought I was just imagining these sorts of things. Occasionally I have wondered, “Does he think I’ma threat??? No way…” I truly cannot thank you enough for confirming my thoughts.

  20. Marisa August 7, 2013 1:06 pm

    “Do you have a real job?”

    Yes, I’ve been asked that.

    Writing is TOO real sometimes, heh.

  21. […] In a post to her blog, Steel, who has written by her count 130 books, describes her frustrations with the query, which she thinks “is something that only men do to only women, and not just to me.” […]

  22. […] In a post to her blog, Steel, who has written by her count 130 books, describes her frustrations with the query, which she thinks “is something that only men do to only women, and not just to me.” […]

  23. Lindsay Kitson August 7, 2013 1:35 pm

    My flight instructor gets a variation on that:

    “So what do you do for a living?”

    “I fly aeroplanes.”

    “Oh, wow! What does your husband think about that?”

  24. Danielle August 7, 2013 1:48 pm

    I love this and thank you for sharing. When I set out to write, I had people say “just don’t quit your day job!” Even when I have gone to interviews now (because I’m still an indie writer) I have people say “but the writing is just a hobby…it’s not serious?” They don’t get it and now that you mentioned it…the people asking are usually men.

  25. delphine August 7, 2013 2:16 pm

    A friend of mine sent me to your post after a similar comment I got. Thank you so much for putting things right. I feel so much better!

    I recently had a similar comment at a diner party ” So, Delphine, are you still doing those little books of yours?” Because I’m a childrens author, not only I am “still” doing it but my book are “little” . I just answered politely “If you may, my books are not that little, some of them are up to 12 inches”. Which ended the conversation because everybody was laughing. Still, my ego felt bruised.

  26. Diana Staresinic-Deane August 7, 2013 2:34 pm

    A friend pointed me to this blog post and I’m so glad they did. I’m currently researching my second historic Kansas true crime book. At one of the historical societies, I had this conversation with a male volunteer:
    Him: “Are you doing genealogy?”
    Me: “No, I’m researching the crime itself.”
    Him: “Why?”
    Me: “I’m working on a book about the crime.”
    Him: “You’re writing true crime? But you’re a woman.”

    I still can’t believe I actually had that conversation in 2013.

  27. Peri Schwartz August 7, 2013 2:56 pm

    My daughter, a young writer, forwarded this to me. I am an artist and have struggled with exactly what you are writing about. Am I still painting? WHAT A DUMB QUESTION.

  28. Deirdre Saoirse Moen August 7, 2013 3:17 pm

    “Are you still being a jackass?” works for me.

    If they balk, I just say, “Oh, wait. You are. How precious.”

    Or, if they’re a techie, one with your publishing credits might just say, “Do I look like Wikipedia to you?”

  29. Chris Budd August 7, 2013 3:29 pm

    I am a man and I am a writer (it feels strange to write those words, as I feel a fraud doing so and I guess I always will, but that is another story). I also feel the vibe you describe from people when they ask how my writing is going.

    But I suspect it may be more complicated than a macho male to a talented female thing. Is it jealousy? That I am actually doing something I want to do, and they are not (whether it be through lack of courage or lack of opportunity)?

    I enjoyed your blog very much, wanted you to know that I can relate to it.

  30. Lynda the Guppy August 7, 2013 4:28 pm

    “When I opened my gallery, a man I know (though not well enough for him to insult me) said, “Well, we always knew you were crazy, now you’ve proven it.” ”

    This absolutely floors me. “Crazy”? Aside from the obvious rudeness, I’d like to know how he can explain a “crazy” person having a career spanning as many years, books, and bestsellers as you. You cannot have your career and be “crazy.” You have your career because you are a savvy businesswoman.

    Someone could be the best writer in the entire world through all of history, and if they don’t know how to market themselves well and be able to represent themselves and their work product, operate their career as a business, it doesn’t matter how good they are. They won’t make it.

  31. Michelle August 7, 2013 5:14 pm

    Bravo, Ms. Steel! Humor and satire are the BEST ways to expose these small men, with small minds.

    I have been a fan for over 30 years, and will continue to be. Thank you for bringing us incredible stories and characters.

  32. Leslie Jones August 7, 2013 9:06 pm

    I get that question a lot. Also, “How’s your book coming?” I don’t know how to answer that, since I’ve written three books since I started writing full-time. How do you respond, is what I’d like to know. Are you still writing? Yes, are you still breathing? What do you say to people like that??

  33. Hazel Croucher August 8, 2013 4:12 am

    Hi Danielle

    Yes, that’s a big peev you got there. “well, we always knew you were crazy and now you’ve proven it” – that’s a plus comment in my book as Crazy shows I’m not living in the speakers limited box.
    Anyhow someone rude off the bat gives a quick signal to walk the other way.
    Been aware of you as a writer for years though not read any of your books …..maybe now’s the time to change!

  34. Mike August 8, 2013 5:24 am

    Obviously I can’t speak for any of the men who are annoying you, but when *I* ask someone that question, I don’t mean to imply any of things you are taking from it. It’s a way to catch up in a way that shows that

    a) I remember what the person used to do for a job.
    b) I am offering them an opening to talk about the thing they do for a job, and supposedly find meaning in.

    I don’t take any offense if when asks me if I am still coding. Still coding _for X company_ would be a much better question, but writing tends to be a much more self-directed type of field.

    Maybe I’m being incredibly socially awkward with this, but I’ve never *seemed* to offended people with it.

    Men often define themselves and others by their career choice. So catching up on what they are doing with their career is a natural question. Personally, at least, it is exactly the same question as “what do you do?” but with a small additional amount of previous knowledge attached.

    People change careers *all the time*. Especially in a career like writing that is *really* hard to make it in.

  35. M.J. Rose August 8, 2013 7:07 am

    Bravo Danielle. Someone asked me this just this weekend – and not a man – a woman who is in advertising. It’s such an insulting question and thank you for writing about it.

  36. Phyllis Towzey August 8, 2013 7:13 am

    Fabulous post!

  37. […] a blog post titled “Are you still a Brain Surgeon?” the queen of steam and one of the bestselling […]

  38. Beverly Diehl August 8, 2013 8:22 am

    For those who’ve offered various excuses as to why the words “Are you still writing” aren’t insulting in and of themselves, they’re right, they’re not. But what can make any comment or inquiry insulting is tone, facial expression, and body language. “Nice dress,” can be an insult, too.

    We all KNOW when we’ve been insulted condescended to, even with nice or innocuous words, and it’s silly to assume that Ms. Steel, who has been making conversation with strangers for decades, simply misunderstood a polite inquiry. This is part of how women are kept “in their place,” when insulted, we have all been trained to be polite and assume WE must have wrongly taken offense. That, somehow, it is our fault that we feel offended.

    Thank you, Ms. Steel, for speaking up on this issue.

  39. Brenda Janowitz August 8, 2013 8:24 am

    This post was amazing– you are a true inspiration to all women who write.

    Jennifer Weiner’s been talking about how people marginalize women who write commercial fiction. This piece will *really* piss you off.


    I love the part where the assigning editor of the NYT Book Review says: “A commercial book is not nearly as interested in character development or quality of prose.” Ouch.

    You’ve really hit the nail on the head here– there’s something about women doing something very well that men just don’t like. So they have to make what we do “less than.”

    I’ve been reading your books since I was 13 years old (we used to stick your paperbacks between our textbooks and read before the class bell rang) and I’m so happy you are STILL writing!


  40. Christine Merrill August 8, 2013 10:34 am

    To all the people who ask this, and don’t mean to give offence: I hope I’m not about to give offernce in return.

    But, yeah, this is a problem. People do not think writing is a serious job, and it’s even less of a serious job when it is a woman, writing books for women. It’s mostly a male/female problem. But my Mom asks me almost every time I see her if I am still writing, or still writing romance. And every time I have to explain to her, “Yes. Because I like being able to pay my bills, I am still doing the same thing I have been doing full time for years.”

    While people might change jobs many times, they are far less likely to change careers. And writing is not a hobby, nor is it a job. If you are doing it successfully, it is a career.

    So this question is not like asking someone who got a gig to make ends meet, “Are you still stripping to pay for college?” It is like wondering if your doctor has suddenly decided to become a deep sea fisherman. He probably hasn’t. Why would he waste all the time/money/education and ditch a thing he has ben doing for years?

    Of course, he might also be the sort of guy who remarks, while he’s got a hand under your gown that he ‘always wanted to write a book’ and is going to knock a couple of them out whenever he gets time, since it can’t be that hard.

  41. […] Are You Still A Brain Surgeon? […]

  42. Rebecca August 8, 2013 11:28 am

    Bless you, lady.

    I hope you never stop writing.

    Unless you want to.

  43. jean nichols August 8, 2013 2:37 pm

    you really stirred the pot with this one. I
    totally agree with your comments-I worked in
    a man’s field as a professional- Had a few
    of these comments come my way. What a fun
    blog this week (as always)-I do read them
    all as well as your books. Ordered the little
    Minnie’s book-Love little poodles too. jean

  44. Elizabeth Hunter August 8, 2013 2:58 pm

    While I imagine Ms. Steele does meet a fair amount of men threatened by her success, and likely a fair amount of women, too, I’m not sure this comment is always meant as she takes it.

    I have a male family member, in his 60s, who has published more than 20 books, the last 10 or so landing on the NYT bestsellers list. While clearly he hasn’t had the kind of success as Ms. Steele, it’s still a rather impressive and successful career. Very often, I get asked if he is still writing from people who haven’t been in touch for a while. He gets asked, too.

    I also don’t think it’s on par with “Are you still a brain surgeon.” I think the equivalent to that is more closely, “Are you still a writer?”

    Often, in pleasant conversation with old friends, I might ask, “Are you still practicing at John’s Hopkins? Or, “Is your mom still with (insert name of prestigious law firm here.)” Or even, “Are you still teaching at Johnson Middle?” To me, it’s just a casual and safe conversation starter, one that acknowledges you know what a person does and are interested in hearing more about it, or finding out where it stands. The brain surgeon may have retired. He may have move hospitals. He may have opened an art gallery. He’s still a brain surgeon, so you wouldn’t ask that, but you might inquire as to whether he is still practicing, still teaching, still writing, etc.

    I also imagine, due to Ms. Steele’s magnificent success, it is intimidating to know what to say to her. You might not know what to say, worry you’ll sound stupid, worry you’ll reveal you don’t read her books — despite the respect you have for her having written them.

    I’m certain she does meet people who treat her poorly due to feelings of inadequacy in her presence, but I don’t know if this one is gender-related, or an attempt at belittlement.

    I’d be interested to know what others think.

  45. aimee August 8, 2013 3:34 pm

    yay danielle. fucking own it.

  46. Erica Hasselbach August 8, 2013 3:35 pm

    This post appeared on my Facebook newsfeed after a mutual commented on it and I’m so glad I was able to read it.
    I’ve been drawing my entire life and have gotten comments about how I didn’t actually draw my pictures and that I must’ve traced them. And, like you said, only men were the ones to say it. It’s a weird thing to experience because it’s not only incredibly discouraging that your work is obviously not being taken seriously, but in a backwards kind of way I felt motivated. I guess I must’ve been doing something right if these men felt offended by my achievements. I allowed their snide remarks to help me become a better artist.

  47. Lori Smith August 8, 2013 9:02 pm


    You are, without a doubt, my favorite author ever. I have every hardback you have published and love your work. I, as an educated and professional women, also have a pet peeve. I am about halfway through “Until the End of Time” and have found, what I believe to be, the second grammatical error. I am not perfect and don’t claim to be but in the last several books I have found spelling or word errors in your work. Major Pet Peeve! I will humbly apologize if I am incorrect. Do you have any proof reading positions available? An admirer from Paris…….Arkansas.

  48. Chris Michell August 8, 2013 11:16 pm

    So, so true! I am a composer/performer and, as a single parent, fed my children from the sales of my albums, yet the negativity, put-downs and patronising remarks i’ve had from men are numerous.
    What you say is so accurate and has caused me great despair. Maybe it’s something to do with being creative and actually inventing a product which sells. I’ve had these put-downs from jealous women too.
    Anyway, I love your books, have read many of them and think they are brilliant and so perceptive. Hard to believe that at your high level of fame, you get such shitty remarks, but maybe it gets worse the more successful you are. Thanks for your insight!

  49. kiags August 9, 2013 12:14 am

    yes you are correct everyone must get respect what ever work they are doing whether is is shoe making for a modeling .i agree with you.

    For MEDICAL BOOKS of any category you can visit my site http://www.kiags.com/ to get book on AFFORDABLE AND DISCOUNTED Prices.

  50. Pete Schubert August 9, 2013 7:39 am

    I get tired of my sister-in-law judging me for what she thinks I think rather than what I do think too.
    Most people see writing as a tough gig, where you’re only as good as you’re last article and there are many places to fall off. And yes, they are probably jealous that you can make a go of such an unreliable career path when they have to make do with a safer option.

  51. Ival August 9, 2013 11:09 am

    Dear Danielle the Writer,
    Loved your rant about reactions to your career and how women generally are put on the defensive concerning life choices. Only wish you had mentioned your books specifically – as I am ignorantly unaware of your writing – but do have loads of friends who are published, publishing, and have published – for success both in a major way and smaller, more intimate ways – all valid, all equally successful in following your spirit. The process really is the act – and whatever follows sometimes does not even happen within a talented lifetime – but finally does become known widely. Friends currently are writing in dangerous areas of the world – it is there own gift to themselves while under tremendous stress. May you continue to write and find that we all must be aware and vigilent continuously in order to allow our equal measure within this life to not only continue but to be manifest beyond any contrary doubts or comments. I hope I may find a contemporary gallery in San Francisco to share my own artwork – work last exhibited in Newtown, months before the tragedy that shook the nation. My exhibition had been displayed at a well known gallery in Chelsea, NYC – and relocated closer to my home after the show was completed – my mother had died one month earlier in Newtown – but I hung the show – and received an abundance of love and support from those same families, those same educators, and administrators who months later were in the headlines of the news – they are remarkable community members and I hope to return their love in weeks and months that follow – after the noise and confusion has died down and what remains are those of us who genuinely want to offer help – and who have received that help already in our own time of need
    Keep writing and discard those notions that rub up against you the wrong way – irritation will not be permitted – there is too much work to be done! L’Shalom Ival

  52. Reticula August 10, 2013 11:20 am

    I wouldn’t second-guess your experience. I just want to add though that I’ve had both men and women ask me the same question, only it’s usually, “Are you still teaching?” I’ve never been offended because I’ve gone through several life changes from bartending to social work to homeschooling while working as an editor/writer to teaching at a university …..

    Given your success and longevity as a published writer though, this seems like an unusual question. I’d say give the guy the benefit of the doubt. He’s probably tongue-tied by talking to someone of your literary stature and says the first thing that pops into his head. Kind of like if I met Kevin Costner I might blush and say, “So, are you still acting?” …. Doh!

  53. Joanne August 11, 2013 1:40 am

    I am a psychologist. Here is how the conversation goes:
    Me: So what do you do?
    Man: I’m a banker.
    Me: how interesting, what type of banking?
    Man: (prattles on)
    7/10 times conversation stops there and I don’t get asked about my career at all, may get, “so do you have children?”. On the odd occasion that he asks, here is how it goes:
    Man: so, do you work.
    Me: (politely resisting all kinds of sarcastic comebacks), Yes, I’m a psychologist.
    Man: (shifting nervously, what kind of secrets has he given away in his man-prattle?) A child-psychologist, then?
    Me: no, I don’t work with children. But I’m curious as to why you would immediately think that.
    Man: (awkward silence) Think I’ll go get another beer.

    Let me be clear, there is nothing inferior about working with children, but the instant assumption that I work with them must be because I am a woman – I don’t, for example, wear cartoon sweat-shirts, or pigtails. Do they say this to men who introduce themselves as psychologists? No. Do male doctors automatically get asked if they’re paediatricians, male authors if they’re children’s writers? No. It’s a comment that aims to put us back in our place when we’re threatening. Kind of like, “So, are you still writing?”

    Thank you for this article, Danielle.

  54. Jeremiah Thurston August 11, 2013 5:32 am

    Is it possible that “Do you still write” is perceived as a more pleasant ice-breaker than “After all these years, you are still a terrible writer”?

  55. Adele Slaughter August 11, 2013 9:25 am

    Adding to your list of acceptable jobs for women: waitress, school teacher, yoga instructor, nurse (never doctor, God forbid), poet and they call you a poetess or an actress…not simply poet or actor. Although that is changing.

    Thanks for writing this…You reminded me of a quote from Marianne Williamson, that was (ironically given your topic) misattributed to Nelson Mandela for years:

    Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
    Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure
    It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
    We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
    Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
    Your playing small does not serve the world.
    There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that
    other people won’t feel insecure around you.
    We are all meant to shine as children do.
    We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
    It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
    And as we let our own light shine,
    we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
    As we are liberated from our own fear,
    our presence automatically liberates others.
    From Marianne Williamson

    Thanks for being in the world, for writing and for looking/being so devilishly awesome…..



  56. D.N. Stuefloten August 11, 2013 7:39 pm

    I dont think this has much to do with gender. I am male, been writing stories and novels since I was seven (I am now 74), and often hear the same question. The general attitude of people, I think, is that writing isnt a “real” job because it must be too much fun. (They know nothing, of course, of the travails of even a financially successful writer.) So I simply smile, nod, and take another sip of my cabernet.

  57. Robin Elfving August 12, 2013 12:11 am

    I can relate a parallel example from Finland. A good friend of mine, professor at Helsinki University and author of a number of successful books occasionally is greeted by a man when she is invited to deliver a speech. The greeting goes: “My wife liked your latest book” – he has not, of course, let himself be bothered with that insignificant piece of literature. There are other examples that corroborate the “Do you still write” story. Thanks for a well written column. It not only exposes some male prejudices, it is also a good reminder to us men who think we are past such patronizing – we are also guilty, from time to time.
    Robin (yes, a male name in Europe)

  58. Obetoh Joshua August 12, 2013 5:25 am

    That’s was nice…. In one word.. Awesome!!!

  59. Brian Gulino August 12, 2013 7:10 am

    Your piece provoked some thought and introspection. I think I am more likely to ask a women of some means if she is still working than I am a man.

    While its never easy to be sure of theses things after the fact and I tend to take the most charitable explanation of my own behavior, perhaps I am doing this because I perceive men to be more egotistical about their careers. Retiring is a more delicate topic for such a man. I would be more likely to ask someone else, “Say, is Bob still practicing?” in the case of a doctor. I would expect a women to be less ego-invested in the question and less likely to be offended or defensive about the answer.


  60. J. Straw August 12, 2013 9:39 am

    However small it may be in the way of consolation and justice, the fact remains that women have their way of demeaning men with unkindly intended questions; to name three:

    • “Are you working?”

    • “Do you have a girlfriend?” (and variants, all of which boil down to “So –y’gettin’ laid these days?”)

    • “So, are you still living in your own place?”/”Have you gotten a place of your own yet?”/”When are you getting your own place?”

    Of course, all three go directly to the matter of the extent of a man’s fundamental capacity to provide, which is the primary criterion by which men and women alike adjudge his worth –and as a general matter, it leaves him with a choice between revealing the embarrassing truth or trotting out a lie (and either way, you can bet that it’s going to get passed around the sewing circle).

  61. Jan Moran August 12, 2013 9:53 am

    Bonjour Danielle!

    Love this blog post–this is certainly a secret of the women’s club! I founded a technology company in the fragrance and cosmetics industry (Scentsa), creating a touch-screen system that was deployed around the world in several languages. It was recently sold to Sephora, but I’m often asked if I’m still playing with perfume as if it were a hobby!

    Anyway, I’ve always loved your work, and appreciate that you write about strong, smart, capable women. And…I’m thrilled to report that I just signed a deal with St. Martin’s Press for my next books, along with several foreign rights sales…and growing! I must say, you have been an inspiration.

    Keep on writing, Danielle, you’re a true inspiration to all of us–readers, writers, artists, and entrepreneurs.

    Jan Moran

  62. Maureen August 12, 2013 12:12 pm

    Loved your essay and your varied interests! What an inspiration you are.

    Laughed at the “kitchen” comments, I had a 40-something friend get up (the first time) at a somewhat raucous Belfast pub with her original songs and some nitwit old drunk yelled “Go back to your kitchen!” Such a neat and tidy put-down.

    Her daughter came to her defense and the story lead me to be inspired to write a song about her and her daughter. So there!

    I personally would never remarry. I have found men, with limited exceptions, have a sorry instinct to “constrict” the women around them.. I travel faster and easier on my own.

    Best of luck to you.

  63. Shawna G August 12, 2013 1:32 pm

    The best comment back is “Jealous.” then smile and walk away. The jealous person will wither use better manners or not talk to you.

  64. Bill Thomas August 12, 2013 1:32 pm

    Wow, sorry, but you are obviously making a big deal about nothing. I would imagine that most of the time when a guy asks you a question like “Are you still writing?” or “Do you have an agent?” they are just trying to make conversation. More than likely they ARE guys who aren’t too familiar with the publishing industry or aren’t much into books themselves, but GEEZ, chill the hell out! You’re coming off as another stereotypical case study of someone who is both insecure and full of themselves who goes around LOOKING for reasons to get offended.

  65. Sumiko Saulson August 12, 2013 1:47 pm

    I love this blog post and I love your sense of humor about the whole, irritating matter of having one’s work minimized.

    When I was a young computer repair technician in my mid 20s, an ex-boyfriend of mine introduced me to his friend as a “secretary…” I was actually a level 2 computer repair and networking technician. I understood immediately that this was a way to “put me in my place.”

    This kind of marginalizing is a problem for a lot of women, but in the arts there is the added bit that some people still don’t see arts and entertainment as ‘real work’ even though it is… real, hard work, that often takes years of study and practice to perfect.

  66. Xah August 12, 2013 1:48 pm

    I feel your pain. When I meet people and they find out I’m a photographer they always assume I take babies, dress them up like Harry Potter and shoot them in cute sleeping positions…..when they find out I work on weddings, book cover shoots, and commercial assignments they are shocked and that’s always followed by “Well who watches your child when you’re away?!” I’ve been asked “So, are you still doing that photography thing?” so many times I’ve become immune to it “What? Sorry didn’t hear you there! Oh, yes I still own my business, in fact I have a shoot tomorrow.” It’s encouraging to hear that even a successful author like YOU has this problem, thank you 🙂

  67. Theresa August 12, 2013 2:03 pm

    I have been dealing with this all my life as well. As an engineering professional I have made substantial accomplishments in my life that women don’t usually make because we are steered away from math and engineering. Things are finally changing, but very slowly. Everytime I start a new job, I have to work three times harder than any male to prove I can do the job because the perception is there automatically that girls are not smart or tough enough to survive in a male centric field.

  68. Penny August 12, 2013 3:43 pm

    These days it’s rare for people to stay in the same job for decades. I don’t find anything insulting about being asked if I’m still (fill in the blank). I’ve changed careers twice and someone I don’t stay in touch with isn’t likely to know what I’m doing these days. Of course I’m not in the NYT for my work, but even if I were, I wouldn’t find it strange if they didn’t read it.
    I don’t find anything strange about a MAN who you haven’t seen in ages not being current on your work details. Who’s your audience? Nor do I find it strange that anyone male or female doesn’t know who’s on the NYT best seller list if they aren’t in the industry or at least a very avid reader.
    I’m a woman, for the record. Had it up to my eyeballs with misogynist fools. But I do wonder if you’re mistaking real interest or at least normal small talk as offense nobody intended.
    I know several people who on the rare occasions I see them, I ask, are you still selling insurance, installing cable, building houses, managing the city? And in every instance, it’s just as likely for them to tell me no as yes. It gives them an opportunity to talk about the new project or job they’re doing, may even be excited about. It’s called a conversation opener. It’s not offensive.

  69. Sandra August 12, 2013 3:43 pm

    Why don’t you look them in the eye in an innocent manner and say’ Bob, do you still have the same wife?’ Think offended Bob would be at this breech of common courtesy, not to mention the assumption that for some reason, he might not have the same wife.

  70. Evelynne August 12, 2013 4:37 pm

    Oh God, shut up! They probably just mean you’re so insignificant they didn’t realize you still exist, which was my thought until I read this column.

  71. Margaret August 12, 2013 4:40 pm

    I do think it is about limiting women’s options. I recall one man who said, “Do you cut hair?” when I told him I was a neurosurgeon. My response was to say, “Yes, we often clip some before prepping for surgery.” So, yes, I am a neurosurgeon and recently have started writing as well.

  72. Laura August 12, 2013 6:05 pm

    So happy one of my favorite authors wrote about this interesting phenomenon. As a forty-five year old business woman I have constantly experienced this with men. I think your on to something…maybe you should interview different women around the world and write about it. Strictly fiction of course.

    Wishing you continued success in your WRITING!
    Wait, what, your still writing? hehehe

  73. Lawrence Grodecki August 12, 2013 6:43 pm

    It’s disappointing to see someone so well known and respected make such stereotypical comments. There is so much good reading material out there. I’ve never read anything of yours, and now it’s doubtful that I ever will.

    I hope this was simply some kind of venting, and if not, then I feel sorry for you that despite your success, all the men in your life seem the same. If that’s not what you meant, then I suggest a re-write.

  74. Mira August 12, 2013 8:13 pm

    Well, I think you’re overreacting. People just may be surprised you’re still doing something so long, especially when you’re also doing all those other things. How is it insulting if someone jokes that they “always knew you were crazy” when you embark on a risky venture. I get that all the time. I’m opening my fourth restaurant.

    I’m not a novel writer, but my husband is, and he’s been asked the same question as you. So men indeed get asked this–did you actually do some research before claiming in loud caps that they don’t? How can you know they don’t. Are you omniscient?

    I think you’re just a little oversensitive/egotistical.

  75. Daniel Murray August 12, 2013 8:32 pm

    Good comebacks are always fun in these situations. One I like is, “Wow, are you one of those guys that asks those types of questions? Amazing!”

    However, glib as that might be, or lethal, I do understand being absolutely so stunned that I’m left being — well — just stunned and unable to respond.

    We all get stung from time to time from venomous creatures.

  76. ilona August 12, 2013 9:00 pm

    I am an artist and a writer and I’ve been asked a similar question (“are you still making art?”) many times. It used to trigger me, because I started making art later in life and I was insecure about what I was doing. Rather than hear the question at face value, I injected it with a lot of unnecessary meaning because of my own doubts. It is actually an innocent question, 99% of the time, unless delivered in a snarky tone. My curiosity is why would you take such a question personally, or allow it to irritate you?

  77. Lawrence Watt-Evans August 12, 2013 10:05 pm

    While I’m certain it’s much, much worse for women, I get asked, “Are you still writing?” too, despite having a Y chromosome.

    I’m scarcely in your league, but I’ve made my living writing for more than thirty years — as you say, it’s my work; what ELSE would I do?

    Somehow, a lot of people just don’t see writing as a JOB.

    Being female, as well as a writer, has to be a double whammy, and I’m sure the tone’s less condescending for men, but male writers do sometimes get this same stupid crap.

  78. Lawrence Watt-Evans August 12, 2013 10:09 pm

    …and I see D.N. Stuefloten had already said what I said, making my post superfluous; my apologies for the needless repetition.

  79. Brandon A. English August 12, 2013 11:37 pm

    Twice in one day, I have now seen comments by authors–famous authors–that cause me to feel a degree of disappointment. I always hope to hear a calmer, more patient, wise, and understanding approach to life from someone who has become as prolific as you. Still, I have neither read nor had the desire to read your body of work, so I cannot personally attest to its merit, if it is innately eclectic in nature or in some way truly beneficial to the human race (I omitted “mankind” for your sake). As I grew up, your novels seemed to always be surrounded with the same aura I saw in daytime television: the soap opera. Again, perhaps my lack of knowledge concerning your works causes me some misguidance, yet after reading your post above, I think that, perhaps, my perceptions were not all incorrect.

    The USA, for some time now, has become increasingly feminist. I’m all for equality for everyone in all things. Feminism is not about equality, it only causes division and stirs up strife. The great samurai Miyamoto Musashi said in the Dokkodo that “Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor others,” “Accept everything just the way it is,” and “In all things, have no preferences.”
    The complaining and false-flag discrimination above is both childish and unnecessary at best. We are to believe that women NEVER (I always love it when a “writer” uses bold to state apparently farcical or important information as if it is fact) say this, and it always comes from men? Sure, I can believe that (cough).

    People in positions such as yours need to know these things. There are many people following you and listening to what you “say,” and you have had years to build upon that very idea, therefore my question to you is: “What have you done to change the world for GOOD?” (my apologies for the bold).

  80. Kyrill August 13, 2013 1:22 am

    The most offensive question I’ve been asked was the one coming from a store owner in Antibes, France, when I came back to his shop with my wife, about two years after our first visit. He remembered me. “It is still the same wife?” he asked me. My wife, standing next to me, was deeply offended. I really don’t think you need to treat seriously questions about “still writing”. You may want to reply you consider extending your name to Daniela Steel Wrighting, so that curious but insensitive men would know it right from the book covers.

    Best wishes from a Russian cosmopolitan! )

  81. KM August 13, 2013 8:59 am

    I think we have a classic M/F failure to communicate here. Yes, some men could mean it as an insult, but it’s possible in a large number of cases, “are you still writing” is just a conversation starter, male style.

    Men ask this sort of question to *each other* all the time. I hear men who haven’t seen my husband in a while ask him a similar question (“are you still working for [Fortune 100 company]?” “are you still doing software testing?”). Heck, I hear my husband ask similar questions of other men he hasn’t seen in a while. If he were a neurosurgeon, I’m 100% sure old friends would come up and say, “So, are you still doing brain surgery?” (Because he *might* be doing something else now — administrative stuff, perhaps, or maybe now he just does spinal reconstruction. Men don’t assume, especially in today’s economy.)

    And no, as a matter of fact, neither of us watch the NYT bestseller lists. *shrug*

    I’d venture a guess that many who ask “are you still writing” are giving the same respect they’d give each other, and a hostile response will just confuse them (and convince a few that women are irrational). I’m sure some will bristle, which will only make it look like they meant to give offense even when they didn’t.

    Sometimes you just gotta cut the poor guys a little slack.

  82. […] Are You Still a Brain Surgeon? Why Danielle Steel still gets asked by men if she’s doing that writing thing still? […]

  83. Barbara Brookie White August 13, 2013 9:35 am

    This rant proves that you, as a productive, successful artist, are human. I am also a seriously talented artist ( without your world fame ) have encountered the same experience with less talented individuals. For example: I document everything around me with photography…a simple Nikon. Friends or strangers look at my photos and inevitably say, “These are wonderful, you must have a really good camera.” Strangely, they don’t say that when they view my paintings, they say, “Did you do these?” Proving that the bulk of the population are totally clueless. Being an artist is not for sissies!

  84. Flora Steele August 13, 2013 7:25 pm

    What really gets men is, a woman who gets rich BY cooking. Must be destroyed (Paula Deen) or put in jail (Martha Stewart).

  85. pennyfarthing August 14, 2013 11:17 am

    when I was young I was doing some rather adventurous work. At a neighborhood dinner party an older gent looked at me and said that he was really worried -with all I had done and was doing, how would I ever get married as it would be difficult to find a man in my age group who had done more …
    I managed not to beat him over the head with the soup ladle!

  86. Rachel Uchizono August 14, 2013 11:52 am

    As you are a person I admire and I think this attitude from men blows my mind, I would like to pin your blog, but there is no picture. Could you add a photo??

  87. Zaheer Seepersad August 16, 2013 2:20 pm

    Why only rich families you write about.I have read very well known books such as Agatha Christie who ranks as the best selling author of all time.You seem to think once someone is good looking powerful they cannot be beaten.Many powerful people have attacked me and I have fought using strategy.Deception,Strategy and Tactics are the real power.The people you describe are very vulnerable it would be easy to deceive them.Try reading Seven Military Classics you might learn how clever and cunning is the most deadly thing upon this earth.Sherlock Holmes from Doyle has the right perpective.Charles Dickens is a great author though you might hate him

  88. […] “Are you still a Brain Surgeon?” by Danielle Steel, “But men who are annoyed by women’s success in business have to find a way to put them down. And what better way to insult someone than minimize what they do, imply that it’s really insignificant, and inquire if they’re still doing it?” […]

  89. Zach August 20, 2013 4:01 am

    I am not exactly sure how to feel about this because it is so presumptuous. Listen, I am sure you have had plenty of misogynistic gents who have had nothing but disdain for the success of what they see as a lesser gender, but to assume that EVERY MAN who asks if you are still writing is trying to put you down, simply because no woman hasn’t happened to have asked, is JUST as sexist.

    And how would I know that? Because I am a male who has asked someone that question before. And I can assure you, when I asked it, it was with a cheery, lighthearted tone, with the “still” being more rhetoric than anything. It certainly was not some put-donw line made to be interpreted as “so certainly you have wised-up and stopped trying to be successful like us MEN are!

    This is such a sad thing I see ALL the time. Now, I am not misogynist. I am not threatened by women, and certainly not by a successful one, either. On the contrary, it brightens my day to hear of anyone’s success, male or female. I do not care what genitalia you were born with. Hard work and perseverance deserve praise.

    But this is getting ridiculous. I’d be a fool to say that there wasn’t still a lot of work to be done with gender equality. However, too often do I see examples like this where feminists find fault in things that likely are innocent.

    And again, I am not saying “No man EVER means that.” Yes, they do sometimes. What I am saying is that, if you are to the point where if ANY man asks you this question and your first reaction is automatically negative, then you are no better than ANY kind of bigot, because you have lumped an entire category of people into a stereotype based on examples that do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the whole.

    This feminist hypocrisy is doing more harm than good. I would hope that someone as intellectual as you could do some reflecting based on my thoughts. I do not expect you to agree with me, I am not some man trying to force you into anything. Its your choice. But don’t just write me off as some idiot, or assume I am a misogynist despite the fact that I am not. This notion that I motion is at least worth consideration.

    Statistically, all feminists will occasionally be wrong about a feminist issue. The evidence here shows that this is very much one of those moments. I feel sorry for any man who expects just a pleasant conversation about your work and ends up offending you. I mean, its not like a writer has EVER stopped writing for any reason, and there is certainly NO reason AT ALL that you would EVER stop, and everyone should obviously know that always by default. Right?


  90. Nichole Giles August 20, 2013 4:38 pm

    I get that comment from women as well, but I’ve noticed they’re mostly older women who were raised with the same mentality of the men you’ve mentioned. The ones who believe women have a certain “role” to fill in society or something. That question is the most annoying, frustrating question on the planet. Thanks for sharing this. At least I know it’s not just me.

  91. Laurie Brown August 23, 2013 2:16 am

    You are an incredible writer. when I read one of your books I find that I can not put them down. Right now I am reading 44 Charles Street. I bought it with the gift card that my son’s teacher gave me for Career Day when I shared my occupation with the class. Now that I think of it, when I am questioned if I am still doing…whatever it is I was or am doing, I wonder why they even ask. My response to them is: “Of course.” I probably look puzzled as I am asked the question.

  92. My Free Time | My Own Beautiful Mind August 28, 2013 6:55 am

    […] enough, Danielle Steel recently did a post on something similar here. She talks about how men ask her if she is still writing. Like it’s a side hobby and not her […]

  93. […] still gets flack for being “a writer.” I recently came across her blog and this post, titled “Are you still a Brain Surgeon?” where she talks about what it’s like when people (mostly men) ask her about her […]

  94. cindy martin September 3, 2013 2:54 pm

    So very glad you still write. I have been a fan since I was in high school (won’t say how long ago that was hehe).
    I am curious. I have 90 of your books all hardback. You say in the “about me” that you have published 107 and stated here 130? What gives because the rest are not listed in your books or on this web site.

    Thank you!


  95. Bill in SF September 7, 2013 5:34 pm

    In Silicon Valley, the usual “Are you still doing _X_?” question means “Hey, you were really successful and famous and presumably made a gazillion dollars, so are you still working?” (Sometimes the answer is “No, I retired at 35 after I sold Startup #3 to Microsoft”, and sometimes it’s “Yes, I’m Larry Ellison, there are parts of the world I don’t rule yet”, or usually somewhere in between because they didn’t actually get rich enough to retire yet or still have cool projects to do.)

    So if I’d heard someone ask you that, I’d have guessed it was an acknowledgement that they’d seen your books in stores for decades and assumed you’d gotten rich doing it. I guess in the real world it’s one of those “Male privilege means you don’t notice all the sexist crap because it’s not pointed at you” things. Sigh.

  96. […] wütend darüber, mit welcher Überheblichkeit manche Männer ihr gegenübertreten. Von daher ist “Are you still a Brain Surgeon?” eine Frage, die viel zu selten gestellt […]

  97. Tina October 16, 2013 5:14 am

    Danielle..how are you? It’s Tina, alex and Lucinda’s daughter..I just found your blog, what a wonderful delicious treat it is to read and to hear about you and the family..I am living far away now, between FLorence and Austria..when I think of San Francisco and my most beloved of my parents’ friends, I always think of you first :). If you are ever in paris and wouldn’t mind a visit from one of your devoted fans, please let me know- I would really love to see you if you ever have time!
    To Danielle’s fans: I had the good grace to know her since I was a small child, and I must say, that she is every bit as lovely, good hearted, generous and beautiful inside and out as she appears in her writings. A wonderful human being who was always one of my great inspirations, a woman who was always graceful and kind to everyone she meets.
    All the best, and the next time one of these idiot men approaches, please feel free to ask them “So are you still dabbling in thoracic surgery?”:) xxoo (Chris) Tina

  98. Mike Reid December 21, 2013 7:23 am

    Hi Danielle – this is a very interesting article – I love it – Theirs alot of dirt bags out their who like to offend people – HAPPY HOLIDAYS

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