Back when I first did NaNoWriMo for real, in 2012, I had bronchitis and did some preparation for the event in bed before November started. I took time that I haven’t had, before or since, to read the forums and comment. One set of threads that struck me as particularly silly at the time, especially in my codeine-addled state, was the discussion of whether or not to call oneself a writer, especially if (like me), one hadn’t published anything yet. I thought it was silly to spend so much time and mental effort on that question when one could be actually writing something. A few commenters agreed with me; I got the impression that there were others out there that felt the same way, but I probably didn’t see them much because they were too busy writing their own novels. Reassured, I turned to something I found more interesting: designing the cover for my novel (which gave me the idea for how the book would end–so, a worthwhile activity, regardless of whether the actual design ends up being used or not), and taking a nap.
Later I realized later that this phenomenon isn’t unique to writers. I’d run into these questions of self-definition before in other communities where I’d participated, especially but not limited to online forums. Who gets to call themselves a violinist? a scientist? A feminist? Again I approached these discussions with skepticism; they seemed a little clique-y, more focused on keeping out the riffraff than doing anything useful.
But now, fast forward three years, and I’m finding my way in a new place. I’ve been enjoying meeting new people and everyone I’ve met has been friendly and interesting. It invariably comes up: what do you do for work? It’s easy to tell them about my husband’s job at Google. This town is sometimes known as “Google View” (right up the 101 from “Appletino”). And so far, my work story has been this: my part-time employer, Science From Scientists, just opened a new office in the SF Bay Area and I was able to transfer there. So, I am a part-time science educator.
This is all true, as far as it goes, but SfS is a part-time position. Even when the school year starts, I’ll probably only be at a school once a week, if that. In Belmont, in addition to SfS, I also worked at an educational start-up called the Innovation Institute. Here I don’t have that job. And my kids start school tomorrow. Looked at from that vantage point, of working at a school once a week, and my own kids being out of the house for the school day, my week looks rather empty. In reality, though, it’s not. It feels full, crammed to overflowing.
I think it’s time to come clean. What I really want to do with that time I’m not working in education is to finish editing my novel, get it into publishable shape, submit it to publishers, and if that doesn’t work out, self-publish it. That pretty much sounds like something a writer would do, doesn’t it? Hmm . . .
The thing is, even with reduced work commitments, I’m still having trouble finding time to write. I’m not blogging as much as I want to, and my novel is languishing. I look at all the things expected of me as a parent, as a new resident of the area, as a customer, and I feel like throwing up my hands. People don’t respect my time. But how will people know to respect my writing time, unless I tell them? Unless I honor it as much as I do my teaching time and my parenting time? It’s time to start telling people that I’m a writer. Maybe those NaNoWriMo threads weren’t so silly after all.