When someone at a party asks me the classic smalltalk question, I’ve traditionally responded by mentioning my day job (I’m a lawyer). This is a boring answer, and it feels incomplete, maybe even deceptive, since it glosses over my ‘secret’ identity as a writer. Still, I’ve preferred to keep my personal and writing worlds at a comfortable distance.
Now, with the impending launch of my debut short story collection, and some time to reflect over the holidays, I’m re-evaluating. What do I do? What is my primary field of endeavour? It depends on how you measure it:
Main source of income: lawyering
Main use of time and energy: parenting
What occupies my thoughts most of the time: writing
Professional/creative work that feels most meaningful to me: writing
How I like to spend my free time: writing (also computer games)
How I’d like to be known/remembered by the wider world: writing
Hmm: inconclusive! This year, just to see how it feels, I might try out ‘writer’ a bit more, as an answer to the old question.
Happy new year, BTW! For better or worse, 2022 promises to be a wild ride. I’ll probably be posting a bit more on here, too, as my short story collection launches, so check back in for updates.
2 thoughts on “What do you do?”
At a high school reunion, an old friend to everyone (including me) he was a feng shui consultant. Not sure if it was true or he was revolting against the pedestrian question. I’ve been tempted to tell people I’m a writer, I’ve sold some books (about 100), but it always feels disingenuous. I’d be much happier if someone asked me if something interesting happened to me recently. I think we could go a lot farther with that question.
Absolutely! It’s not a great icebreaker question, because there is (or it can feel like there is) some implied judgment buried within it. But I get why people ask it when they’re trying to find out about you. I like ‘feng shui consultant’ as an answer and I might have to steal that, but otherwise I might go with, ‘I write short stories, and by day I’m a lawyer.’ In the meantime, if you’ve written and sold books, you are definitely a writer, so I don’t think you need to feel disingenuous!