Time and again I get to answer the question about what I do for a living. Yes, it does get irritating at times. But, mostly I love answering such questions. This time around, it was a marriage party and the questions were from the father of a curious teenager.
“So, I heard you are a writer!”
Is that a question? No, he knows that I am a writer. It’s just a rephrased form of “So, though I know that you write, I’m curious to know what [the hell] you do for a living?!” There still are traces of suspicion, amazement, and non-knowledge, which I liked. Tip: Never let the other person know that you know how it all starts.
I said I don’t just write. Just to be informative, we – in India – mentally associate writers as mostly boring, wage-less people who write because they cannot do anything better than that. So, I said, I don’t just write, I work as a technical writer.
I continued, “I prepare technical documentation for a software company. We, as a company, create software blah… blah… blah… and I get to create user manuals, troubleshooting guides, and the other *important* stuff, which is similar to the guides that you get when you purchase mobile phones.”
“Hmm… OK!” [Expected reply.] That’s a sign for you to continue. So, we talked for some more time before this happened…
“You see, my son keeps searching on YouTube… he mostly searches for [and watches] videos, spoofs, reviews, and funny stuff on technology… Do you do anything of that sort?”
Spoof? Well, No! Reviews? Still a No. Videos? Maybe! He probably intended to say “tutorial” for “spoof,” but alas there weren’t any translators available. Nevertheless. That’s another word to add to the list of what I DON’T do for a living.
Toward the end, I could give him a fair idea of what I do to earn a bread (and the other edible stuff). It turns out, he too wrote occasionally. No, not the way I do, but he wrote poems and diary entries. He wanted to start writing more intently and found “So, I heard you are a writer” to be the only way to crack a conversation about it. I totally respect that.
We kept talking for about half an hour; It was nice talking to him. Our streams of thoughts converged when he asked me about that “one *all-important* thing about my profession.” From where I can see, there is only one answer to this question: Curiosity.
Though we never really concluded the conversation, I got to know one thing toward the end: the curiosity of the curious teenager was very much visible in the eyes of the now curious father. He was content with my reply, it seemed. But, I think I saw a writer in the making.