I think they’re asking me about what kind of work do I do and aren’t really interested in the mundanity of my everyday life, but even with that realization, I hesitate before answering.
For one thing, I don’t really “do” anything, at least for renumeration. For practical purposes, it’s OK to say I’m retired, since I no longer draw a steady paycheck. But I don’t really think of myself as retired; I generally see myself as a writer, but that’s not entirely accurate, either.
True, I’ve had a book published in the traditional market (still in print, by the way) and have finished a second, for which I’m still seeking an agent. I author four blogs, though sporadically. And, although I spent the bulk of my newspaper career as an editor and manager, I began my career as a combination sportswriter/news reporter/rock music critic.
My conundrum is not entirely new. During my newspaper career, I was reluctant to tell people where I worked. Though I was proud of every newspaper job I ever held, I knew the public had a different take. In Burlington, everybody it seemed hated our publisher, the Pulitzer Prize winning editor John McCormally. In Council Bluffs, where I was responsible for sports coverage of the city’s four high schools, it was widely perceived that I was biased for one school or another. At the Des Moines Register, I heard about everything from poor delivery service to our favoritism for Iowa or Iowa State to our lefty political slant on everything we printed.
Another factor in my hesitancy to respond to inquiries about my vocation is that, at best, I’m a part-time writer. Every writer has his or her own “writing rhythm.” You’ve probably read about some successful novelist who snuck in an hour or two after the kids were tucked away at night or someone who writes religiously from 8 a.m. to noon every day or someone who writes 5,000 words every day. Well, those people are not me.
I’m more of a streak writer. I may write for several hours a day for weeks or months, then not write anything at all for another several weeks or months. Is it fair to call myself a writer when I’m not writing? Maybe so, but it doesn’t feel right. Maybe I should go to what my son once told a teacher when she asked what his dad did for a living.
“He types stuff,” he said. Fair enough.
I Saw It On TV Dept. It was an NBA game, I think, and there was a player on the court with nary a visible tattoo. Looked strangely out of place these days. Seeing tattoos on professional athletes is no big thing, but I still can’t get used to seeing an otherwise attractive person (my opinion) who has mutilated their body with some godawful, ugly tattoo. And I'm not the only one:
Author Larry Lehmer is a former newspaper reporter and editor who is seeking a publisher for his book about the Philadelphia years of American Bandstand. He is also a retired personal historian and author of the popular Before Their Time blog, which tells the stories of well-known or important people who died at an early age.