“And what do you do?”
Standing in a friend’s garden with a glass of prosecco in my hand and accompanied by my rather more talkative husband, I was engaging in polite small talk with a fellow guest and the question was directed at me.
What do I do?
“I used to be an academic,” I began haltingly, “but now I’m a reader for a Swedish publishing house.”
Damn it, I thought to myself. Why is it so hard to be upfront about that which truly matters to me?
It’s true I used to teach international relations to university students, but that was many years ago now, and I have no desire to return to that kind of work.
That chapter of my life is firmly over, so much so in fact that I sometimes refer to myself as a ‘recovering academic’.
It’s also true that I read non-fiction books for a Swedish publisher, advising as to their suitability for the Swedish market. I make only a pittance of money from this, however, so to say it’s my job would be a huge overstatement. At best, it’s a side activity for which I get paid.
So what do I do?
I could say that I’m a stay-at-home mum, which is true, though I am hopeless in the kitchen, refuse to drive a car and can’t be bothered to force my six-year-old to practice the piano in between lessons.
I’m more of a laissez-faire mum, and my parenting motto is “less is more.”
Ok, but what do I do then?
I write a blog, so that makes me a blogger, I suppose, but when I once referred to myself as a blogger, the response was, “oh, that’s so hipster.”
I’m hardly a hipster, though.
“She’s a writer,” my husband proudly said to the aforementioned guest at the garden party, making me shrink at least a few inches in embarrassment.
A writer! Hardly. It’s not like I write novels or poetry or big intellectual books on important subjects.
I write a blog, for goodness sake.
That said, my blog matters a great deal to me, and I love the feedback I’m getting from readers.
Ultimately, I’m a communicator, and I’ve discovered that the directness and immediacy of the blog format are perfectly suited to the writing I do.
“You should write a book,” people tell me, indicating that while the blog is all right as a first step, there’s more prestige in having a book on Amazon.
Years ago, when my PhD thesis was turned into a book and priced at a whopping £50 by the publisher, my brother said,
“You know you’ve arrived when you’ve got an ISBN number associated with your name.”
But frankly, I’m not that interested in writing a book. It was hellish enough to write my PhD thesis, let alone transforming it into a readable book and it did nothing for my general wellbeing, satisfaction or overall happiness. The opposite is true. It left me depressed, physically ill and terribly moody. I’ve got no desire to revisit those days.
Besides, I no longer feel I’ve got to prove myself. Thank goodness for that.
More importantly, for me, the message contained in Born Whole is what matters most, and writing is the means – and blogging the medium – by which I choose to convey that message.
So, what do I do?
I write a blog about what it’s like to have a disfigurement or disability, with the aim of raising awareness, offering support, and increasing tolerance and acceptance of that which is different from the norm upheld by society.
That doesn’t sound very sexy perhaps, and may not be a great opener for casual chitchat at a garden party, but it’s the truth.
It’s what I do.