Sunday, November 15, 2015

"So, What Do You do?"

Congressman Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks): "Tell him. Tell him why we need him."
CIA Agent Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman): "I'm not saying anything."
Wilson: "Why not?"
Avrocados (gesturing): "I don't know who the fuck these two other guys are."
Charlie Wilson's War (2007)

Traveling. There are a multiplicity of pleasures, not the least of which is the brief, fleeting departure from real world adult responsibilities. No vacation has required me to mow lawns, repair bathroom sinks or pay bills. Shoveling snow seems to attend our every return to Denver, but that is a different blog.

I don't spend a lot of time thinking about work, either. One recruit asked, days ahead of this vacation, if I was going to be thinking of him. Let's see... How about, no.

One thing I have had to think about, though, is the question that always gets asked among adults thrown together in a restaurant, bar or cruise ship lounge,searching for common ground upon which to build a conversation.

"So, what do you do?"

There are advocates and partisans on all sides of this discussion. "I'm a cop," is probably harmless in most places in the US. Even in a world where the main stream media revile us, the average American respects police officers. Not a hard one, there.

But, in an environment where I will be entering another country?

Poolside at a resort in Mexico I overheard an officer of some kind telling cop war stories. Aside from being a shitty story teller, I think he was looking for unnecessary trouble. Maybe I'm being overcautious, but a good friend said she tells people she's a first grade teacher. "I live in fear that I'll meet a real first grade teacher," she added.

I tell people I'm a writer.

Technically, it's the truth. I currently have two novels and a short story available for purchase. A third novel is due for release on December 9th. I spend a large portion of my free time writing, marketing writing or alerting people that my stuff is for sale. It's not a lie to say I write.

This gets an amazing array of responses. Sometimes, it elicits "That's...interesting. Now, back to me," kinds of comments. Other times, silence. One guy blurted "Maybe you'll use me as a character!" Oh, there is no way I'd pass him up. Lightweight, loud, costume jewelry... He'd make a great villain. The other fellow at the table would be better, though. That would be the guy who flirted with my wife.

There were several people who wanted to know more, How do I create characters, begin novels. Do I have a plot in mind at the beginning, or do the characters sort them out (the latter). How much do I write, how do I concentrate?

It makes me feel vaguely dishonest, and a little bit guilty. "Bring cards next time," my lovely wife offers on the way back to the cabin. "You might make a few sales."

Spell broken.

I am a writer. I have a publisher who has invested time and money in me. I have books for sale. That other stuff? Long term, intensive research.

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