Stilted Conversations and Mumbled Responses

‘So, what is it that you do?’

‘Oh, I’m a, er, freelance writer… I guess’

‘Cool. What sort of stuff do you write?’

‘Ah, well, um, all sorts really. Like, stories and stuff…’

This has generally been the exchange for the past couple of weeks, when the inevitable subject of what I actually do for a living comes up when meeting new people. I used to be able to say that I was an engineer, which swiftly killed the conversation. We would then stare at each other in an awkward silence before I broke, and attempted to show an interest in the average day of a curtains salesman. Some professions are just more fascinating than others. I have a mate who is an animator, and another who is an alpine guide, and I used to talk about their professions to other people, vicariously living through their careers. I’d be referred to as the guy who knows an animator, as opposed to the guy who is an engineer.

However, now that I refer to myself a writer (which for some reason can have an air of pretentiousness about it. Sometimes I lead with ‘dog biscuit maker’. That’s not a euphemism by the way, it is something I do on the side while try to decide what to write about) it’s a subject that people are curious about, yet I don’t really have a great deal of further information to hold up my end of the conversation. As I’m currently in the process of dabbling, experimenting and skiing, in an attempt to establish a niche, there’s nothing concrete to elaborate on, resulting in a bit of a mumbled fade out.

Similar to the expectation while I was an engineer that I should have an interest in cars, and/or have a large adjustable spanner on my person all times, there also seems to be an assumption that I should be carrying around a pad and pencil, for feverishly scribbling down details and minuting all conversations. Putting aside the fact that a phone will suffice these days, this has now been mentioned on so many occasions that I’m starting to think that is what I should be doing, as opposed to relying on my significantly diminishing memory. Which may explain why all my stories seem to end in a car chases and explosions.