Friday, July 27, 2012

"So, what do you do?"

Recently someone asked me what I do for a living & I replied, "I'm a writer & a stilt performer." Without hesitation or qualification.

When I thought about it later, it felt really good to realize that I've sort of grown into this new identity. I'm no longer a mostly-stay-at-home-mom-blogger-who-used-to-be-an-ESL-teacher-&-does-a-bit-of-writing-&-stilting-on-the-side.

Sprout visits Mama 'at the office'
Though it's a challenge to rebuild my stilting business after two years off due to pregnancy in an environment of severe arts funding cuts, I have been a professional stilt performer for nearly a decade now. I've taught classes in stilt walking & building. I've performed at hundreds of events: parades, festivals, grand openings, parties, weddings & a TV commercial this week.

Saying I'm a stilt performer wasn't really that tricky. The writer part of my identity is the newer one, though I've been writing for myself--in diaries, terrible teen angsty poetry & blogs--since I was about ten. I have put in who knows how many hours writing research papers in literature, language, anthropology, women's studies, linguistics, psychology, art history & more that I've surely repressed. I wrote a lot of tip sheets & lesson plans for my classes when I taught ESL. But I never actually got paid to write until about a year ago.

Since then I've started writing articles for Vancouver Mom Magazine, about where to eat, what to do & what's going on in the city. Not long after that, I started writing for Hawksworth Communications, crafting press releases for their clients' luxury hotels, resorts & restaurants, chef & restaurateur bios, plus copy for a new website (check it out here: O! Osoyoos Celebrates!).

An added complication to the answer to "What do you do?" was that I decided to go back to school to become a Speech Language Pathologist in 2010. I did ten university courses in just over two years (with a few months off to, you know, have a baby & all that. It was only in my last semester that I realized that I wasn't going to be able to get the straight A+ grades that I needed to pull up my only-slightly-above-average GPA from my undergrad degree. & that was just to meet the minimum requirements for the program. Competing with hundreds of keener applicants for 23 spaces would probably mean I'd need a much higher GPA, plus a lot of volunteer experience.

I struggled with the decision, but I just wasn't willing to stay in school another few years so that I could try to get into a program to go to school for two more. I just didn't want it bad enough to be able to compete with the twenty-somethings who seemed to have nothing else in their lives but school. So I quit once I'd completed the last semester worth of requirements for a Speech Sciences certificate (still have to apply for that). Since I made the decision, I've thrown myself into writing & I haven't looked back.

A lot of big & small opportunities have come my way since I started writing seriously. I won't bore you with all of them, but here are my favourites.This spring I was honoured with a spot in the top 30 of Vancouver Mom's Ultimate Blogger competition. I also got to work with the lovely ladies of Limelite PR to help promote the Vancouver International Children's Festival as a Superfan. I've recently done a couple of interviews for other publications & started interviewing people myself for The Sprog's Bike Life feature. A few writing & social media related jobs have floated my way because of the writing I'm doing. Even if I didn't get the gig, it was still flattering that someone came to me to ask me to apply for a job.

Being a writer feels right to me. It's not easy to get out coherent prose when there's a toddler demanding my full attention & I struggle to find the self-discipline to work for myself after a lifetime of being told what to do, how to do it & when I was allowed to go pee. But this identity as a writer fits, better than being an ESL teacher did.

 Yup, I'm a writer & a stilt performer.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting! (I've had to enable comment moderation on older posts to thwart spammers, so your post may not appear right away.)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...