My daughter came home with the homework to interview a service worker. And she mentioned the author gig, and I didn’t think about that first. I think someone like a nurse or a waitress, and that’s probably because I often don’t deal directly with the people that I serve.
My customers, usually known as readers, are often removed from the process when I’m doing this. Publishers think of that, right? Self-publishers more than me, because I’m thinking about the stories.
Then she asked me something else- if I wrote stories to help people (especially Kindergarteners) learn to read. But I don’t write for Kindergarteners. I don’t even write for kids her age (2nd grade). I’m not sure anyone in my writer’s groups would say they started writing stories to help anyone learn to read. Reading isn’t the purpose, and I’m not sure I conveyed that.
However, for my author job, she asked the general questions listed on her sheet:
How does your job help others? I give people a different view of the world.
What do you like about your job? I love writing stories.
Then she needed to think up two specific questions about my job, and I’m sure that’s not easy for her. She doesn’t really see what I do. What she sees is her mother, sitting in front of a computer to do a bunch of daily words – and most of the time I do it when she’s at school. She usually doesn’t see me doing editing work, because I do that when she’s asleep or at school. Here are hers:
How did you get your job? I kept doing it until I was good enough to be published.
Why do you like stories so much? Because anything can happen in a book.
It’s the last part that always gets me. Anything can happen. I have a different point of view in a book. It’s not about gender or race or even species. Stories can be an escape to take you away from today and they can also be a refuge full of friends where different things happen.
This weekend, my daughter and I finished reading Charlotte’s Web. Reading about Wilbur and Charlotte wasn’t about learning to read, because I read most of the book. It was all about the story. I’m neither a pig nor a spider, but the story resonates with me.
I also think of my mother, the poet. She sees the world differently, and she uses so few words to create an image. We use words differently, but our service is similar. We want to share with people, whether it is out loud or in digital form or on a physical object.
Except I keep thinking about how I got this job. I don’t know that I chose it, because I’m pretty certain it chose me. I’ve always been telling stories. It’s just part of who I am, and when I don’t do it I don’t feel like myself. Some hobbies I pursue to give me background and research into other stories, other perspectives. I read about how to be a better writer, have discussions with other writers, and constantly work on all of these items. I’m not someone who talks about all of my stories so much before they’re written, because I need to have that pressure to keep the momentum going on my work-in-progress.
What has your child taught you about your job?