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Thursday, March 17, 2005

Parenting isn't a tell-me-more kind of job

I like the idea of work, but when it comes to actually working? Not so much.

But I like the satisfaction of seeing my name in print. I like the prestige of telling people I'm a writer. Even back when I was a scribe at a technology news site, I'd tell people that I was a journalist, and they'd think the NBC Nightly News. And telling people I'm a writer has been especially enjoyable these past couple of days when I've been to the funeral equivalent to a high-school reunion. Sure I mention that I'm a parent, but that seems to come after, "I'm a writer for a parenting magazine." Ooohs and aaah, follow. I never disclose that I have only written one article for this magazine and that it hasn't even been published yet. It's an ego-thing.

Even though I'm a parent 96 percent of the time and a writer four percent of the time, I start with the writer part. Telling? It gets back to that whole identity thing. We are what we eat. We are what we do for a living. And what we do for a living, as a parent, isn't readily recognized as a glamorous, tell-me-more kind of job.

I've been thinking about jobs and work recently, especially since my magazine piece is in the final editing phase. That means it is mostly off my plate with just a few strings to tighten here and there. I actually can't wait to be done with it. It hasn't been a super time-intensive thing over the past month, but it has been a part of my daily routine, even if it's just talking with people about it or gathering telephone numbers of people to contact. It has been work. My days haven't been totally my own.

My editor has even started asking me about my next project, which is great news. I had pitched a bunch of story ideas to this publication way back when, and she is waiting for me to do some more reporting to see if another idea is worth pursuing. I know it is. I just need to do more work. Maybe it's because I'm traveling again on the east coast (funerals always come in threes, right?). I haven't been in my space working on my own terms, and that makes getting work done an extra effort on my part.

A former editor once told me: if you like "having written," then that's that best you can hope for. His point was that no writer (and I'm sure this goes for many professions) finds the whole process enjoyable. It's called work, after all. But if at the end of it all, you feel good about what you've accomplished, then it's all worth it.

For me, getting to share my glamorous life with others just might keep pushing me to share my time with my work.

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