Sunday, March 02, 2014

The Writing Life: What do I do?

Just some things I have been thinking about: If you are not a decently paid writer, how do you pay the bills? With a "day job" of course. So, when people you meet for the first time ask you what you do, what do you say?
     I suppose that depends. Are you just starting out thinking of being a writer? Are you in a writing program in school? Are you a journalist?  And you've seen that "What I think I do/What others think I do meme, right? The one which has pictures of a Writer?
     People who know me, know I left a job to write. But I also had a bunch of other things to do, and much crap to go through before I actually tasked myself to write and identify myself as a writer. Often when I thought of "what do I do?" the end-product would be the answer, but it's more complicated than that. It's a process.
    I am practicing saying, "I'm a writer," whenever anyone asks me what I do. If they further ask me about the end-product, say "what have you written/published?," I can answer, "I write poetry and novels and I have a blog. One of my poems is going to be published..."
    It's amazing how visible the disconnect is, when I respond, "I am a writer," and how defensive I feel. 
   Do we ask accountants, say, "Wow, that's cool! How much money did you account for today?"
   Most people-in-occupations never have to justify or account for their work. Ask a receptionist, "Cool! What exactly do you do for the X Company?" and see what kind of answer you get!
   I write. I put words on paper, or virtual paper. I play with words. I arrange words in order to make sense and to tell a story, to tell the reader something about my feelings--maybe they are your feelings too.
   That's what I do. I think I'll try that response next time I hear, "What do you do?"

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