Four years ago I wrote about my dread of answering the question “what do you do?” when asked by someone about my vocation. I used to tell people “I work with computers” but that was vague. I don’t like saying that I am a project manager because it sounds to me like a made-up job. At the time, I wrote:
There are occasions when I am asked the question, when I’d love to answer, “I’m a writer,” and just leave it at that. Of course, telling someone you are a writer leads to other questions. Besides, I don’t make my living as a writer. And when people ask “What do you do?” they are asking how you make your living.
Something clicked in the way I think about my vocation and avocation recently: one of those ah-ha! moments that made me realize I could answer this question honestly, and directly in four words and feel perfectly comfortable with my response. The four words are:
I am a writer.
As I pointed out four years ago, this tends to elicit further questions, but in the years since, I have answers that I am more comfortable with.
In my vocation, I primarily write code, although there is often more involved than that.
In my avocation, I write both fiction and nonfiction.
For plain fun, I write this blog, which has been around for 16 years and has over 6,700 posts.
Do I make my living as writer? Well, yes, I do. The part that pays the bills is the part that writes code. I have written about the similarities between writing code and writing fiction, and so I feel justified in my position on this. At the same time, I don’t feel like I am being disingenuous because I have also made money writing fiction and nonfiction. All told, when I put everything together, the common thread throughout all of my work is writing.
I think I knew this subconsciously all along. I think it is why I altered the subtitle of the blog years ago to read, simply, “Writer.” It really doesn’t matter what I am writing, that’s what I do. Or to put it another way, I write all kinds of things and “writer” is the most succinct way to capture everything I do.
It feels good knowing that I can now answer the question, “What do you do?” with “I am a writer.””