“What do you do?”
“What do you do?”
Isn’t that the question everyone dreads? No? …maybe it’s just me.
I remember feeling worse about this right after I left uni and was drifting around, unemployed, basically freaking out. Luckily, when people asked the dreaded question I was usually able to use rage to deflect, “I’m unemployed! OK?! What of it?! So’s your face!”
Eventually I decided to take my writing seriously, which predominantly involved getting a blog and becoming well and truly obsessed with Twitter. Occasionally, I would work on my fiction and drink wine in front of the computer in my PJs.
I also now work as a freelance content writer.
“A what?” so many people ask.
“Like I write things for businesses and stuff.”
“Like I write people’s websites.”
“You know, like, how on computers there are websites and they have writing on them?”
“I write that.”
I’ve had that exact conversation more times than I can count. Admittedly, I didn’t know what a content writer/copywriter was until I was offered my first freelance job and I’m still not 100% sure, so rather than taking offence I just wring my hands and wonder if I should invent a more commonly known job for when I’m asked my occupation. But what? Obviously the first job that comes to mind is astronaut, but it’s too unbelievable. I don’t like leaving the house, let alone the planet. I could answer nurse or engineer or plumber, but these all require specific education and knowledge that make the lie too risky.
I could also answer more simply, “I’m a writer.”
This, however, has its own inevitable and annoying, seemingly scripted response:
“Oh! Cool. Have you written anything I would have read?”
What am I meant to say to this? “Yes, you know that book Twilight? I wrote that.”
I usually say, “Ah… probably not. I’m working on a novel, I’ve had a couple of short stories published and I write a regular blog.”
And then they ask:
“What’s a blog?”
This is when I stare blankly, because I have no idea. “It’s like… a website… with content that is always changing… and you… like.. write things on it.”
“So it’s an online diary?”
“I spose, but not really. Some people have more diary ones… I mostly just draw pictures of myself as a stuffed olive and write about the last time I embarrassed myself in public.”
This is where the conversation ends. They step slowly backwards and I bow my head in shame.
I wonder if that’s what it feels like to be a proctologist.
Note: Yes, I use the word “like” very frequently in my daily speech. Clueless was one of the most meaningful films of my youth and has a lot to answer for. Sad on so many levels.