I had a visit this morning from a young woman who was curious about my job. She wanted to know all about my work: How had I become a writer? How had I landed my first job? What did I do every day?
I gladly gave her the dog-and-pony show. I showed her a creative brief, and held up one of the many job jackets I handle every week. I showed her some recent projects and explained a bit about the creative process.
She listened attentively and she asked insightful questions. But she seemed more interested in the idea of being a writer than in the actual mechanics of the job. She talked about how much she enjoys writing, and waxed poetic about doing it for a living. “You must love your job,” she mused. “I do,” I said. And I meant it.
I genuinely enjoy my work. I find it challenging and stimulating, and sometimes it’s even fun. But I don’t think my job even begins to approximate what most people imagine.
There’s a weird mystique about writers and writing. Many people embrace the romantic notion of a writer — usually an alcoholic, tortured soul — sitting in some unheated garret, plinking out Deep Thoughts and Universal Truths.
But here’s the real truth: My writing life is pretty mundane. I may occasionally struggle to find the right word, but I rarely suffer for my art. (Suffering sometimes makes great art, but it seldom pays well.) About the worst torture I face most days is trying to find a happy medium between plain English and unintelligible jargon.
I wish my visitor had still been at my desk this afternoon when I got one of my drafts back. My original subhead had read “To own one is to love one.” A lawyer had crossed it out and replaced it with “But a substantial majority of actual [product] owners like them.”
Now, that’s writing.