aqua fortis

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Services Not Elsewhere Classified

It's really hard to explain to people what it is I actually do. That's why my City of Modesto business license is for "Services Not Elsewhere Classified." I don't want to simply tell people I'm a writer, because that leaves out a good portion of the work I do that's merely writing-related, or editing, and totally doesn't mention anything about visual art or design, which I also do.

That might still seem relatively simple to explain, but when I say I'm a writer and artist, or a writer, artist and designer, people then tend to latch onto one of those and grill me about just that one aspect. Usually it's "So what do you write?" Which often means I have to launch into a lengthy explanation of the various different types of projects I do, because if I say, "Oh, a variety of things--fiction, articles, whatever," that will provoke a blank look, or further curious questions.

Lots of times this leads into either "I had an idea for a novel once," followed by the story of said idea, or "I've been thinking I really should write my autobiography because I had a really interesting life." Variations on this conversational thread happened to me several times today, at the annual Chew family picnic in Point Richmond (my husband's extended family). On the other hand, there was a delightfully chilly breeze that we here in the valley are only privy to after the midnight hour.


TadMack said...

Ah, yes, those Services Not Elsewhere Classified, which, at your partner's work parties, your class reunion, and at church picnics are responded to as, "Oh, really? What are you working on now?" Or, worse, "What's the last thing you wrote?" Which is right up there with, "Why don't you ever show us what you're working on?" or "Where can we pick up a copy of what you write? On Amazon?" or, which completely addles the mind, "Oh, so you're home all day? We really need volunteers for ______..." I have been asked to do childcare ("Oh, they won't bother you. They'll just watch TV".), secretarial work, and be a fill-in parent on field trips for my siblings' school. My father regularly gives me JobSeeker ads. Perhaps if I say "Services Not Elsewhere Classified," it'll clear things right up for everybody.


It's just as hard to say you're a plain old writer... some people consider anything in the Arts as deliberately chosing a deadbeat job so you won't make any money. "A writer...? Do you make any money at that?"

I'm hoping that someday people will just see me as hopelessly eccentric, and quit talking to me altogether.

DaviMack said...

90 percent of people surveyed believe they have a novel in them. Unfortunately, it's probably written upon fast-food wrappers inadvertently ingested.

Take to telling them that you're a telemarketer. They'll quit asking and sidle away, not having told you anything about themselves.