Something I have noticed, continuously, is that when I tell people I am a freelance writer and editor, they are confused. The first question out of the mouths of most people is, so, which paper do you write for? I said writer, not journalist! “I am not a journalist”, I want to scream, but in the interests of decency, I smile politely till I can get the retort down, and say, no, I write for companies, researchers, NGOs, and individuals. And the look of confusion continues.
“So what do you write for them?”
“I write anything, from press releases, to website content, to magazine articles,” I reply.
At this point, there are two ways this can go. One is, like a girl in one of my classes, the person will get bored and walk away/ignore me and talk to my husband, whose IT-related work is much easier to understand (which says a lot, BTW!). Or, if they hang around, I will continue to explain to them in the hope that they will understand, all the while watching their eyes glaze over.
On the other hand, the kind people, the people who understand what I do, ask me if they can see some samples of my work because what I write must be so interesting to make a living out of it. This immediately throws me in at the deep end of an existentialist crisis, and I wonder, “am I a writer? Can I write well? Will you judge me and my creativity? Or is it the lack thereof? ….” The questions continue, unbeknownst to the person who asked for the work. How are they to know that their kind interest has made me question my entire existence? I tell them, yes, sure, I will share with you, shoving the self doubt back in, to make its presence felt later. This process continues every time I email my samples out, which is funny because I have been doing this for the past 4 years, and I have written for some well-known organizations. Also. I have written for nearly all the companies I have worked at while working there. Go figure, huh?!
Now, apart from the issues of explaining what I do, I sometimes come across issues where they go overboard on the oh-it’s-a-cushy-job conversation. Yes, it is a comfortable life, but I do have my set of worries, including not getting paid on time, which is not something many people understand given their regular paychecks.
There was recently a man (in the same class as the girl mentioned above) who said, twice, mind you, “oh you are not working, noh?” In a huff I replied, “I am! I am a writer!”
“Yes, but you work from home. So, you have time to do all the work we are given in class. We can’t because we have work and families.”
At this point, I realized that we were not getting anywhere, so I mumbled something, turned around and started talking to someone else. I don’t know where they get off this!
You might think I should say I am a content writer. Maybe, but then what about all the other writing I do? Also, imagine explaining to these people what content is!! We would be there all day!