So I was outside, picking up my recycling bin (which is a maneuver fraught with anxiety for me since it was whilst picking up the recycling bin that I took a tumble down the driveway and lay there for 20 MINUTES waiting for Mister Man to come and investigate and when he did not, I somehow stumbled into the house and took the next twelve months sorting out the various bumps, bruises, cuts, sprains and strains associated with said tumble, taking the opportunity to complain to Mister Man whenever possible) when I saw my neighbor.
We don’t see each other often, so we had a little chat. And then he asked a simple question. To wit, “Do you work?”
Now, let’s not forget that I was already anxious (due to the whole recycling bin thing) and so I paused. And I don’t mean just a blip of a pause. I mean one of those really long and uncomfortable pauses. He clearly thought he had somehow wandered into some incredibly inappropriate waters and he began to flail around, apologizing, but really, there’s nothing wrong with asking a person if she works.
Except for me, it opened up the door to Angst and Uncertainty. A year ago, I would’ve said, “Oh, yes, I work at home. I’m a writer.” And then I’d explain how I don’t make a ton of money but I enjoy my work, blah-blah-blah. I’d have meant it, too.
But as I stood there on the edge of my driveway (and honestly, I considered catapulting myself down the slope so I wouldn’t have to answer the question put to me because I’d rather take another tumble than explain exactly what it is I am doing these days), I did not know what to say.
Do I work? Well…that required me to consider whether or not I was still a writer. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I think a writer should actually…you know…write. And to work as a writer, I think it might be necessary to put writing out there in the wide world. To try at least to make some money from writing, even if the money’s not enough to pay your internet bill (which just went up again).
And here it just happened to be the end of the month, when I was thinking about checking in and realizing that April had been a not-so-very accomplished month. To tell the truth, April has been a very unaccomplished month (unless you count all the books I’ve read, which I don’t, because let’s be fair, reading is not writing).
So all of these thoughts were whirling about in my head as I stood there, not saying anything for the longest time. Until at last I said, “I work at home. I’m a writer.” And then we blah-blah-blahed about writing and I talked with one part of my brain while the other part of my brain was screaming like the old woman in Princess Bride, “LIAR!, LIAAAR! LIARRRRR!”
Who would’ve thought going to get the recycling bin could be such an emotional experience? (Well, besides the crazy emotions I always feel, getting the recycling bin.) But as I walked back into the house, I thought, Cathy, poop or get off the pot.
I’ll let you know how that comes out. (No pun intended.)