When you quit your job, you take up another task of having to explain to everyone you meet what it is you do now. This is because your job gives a glimpse into the kind of person you are. Yes, you are what you do.
A name doesn’t say much about you, but the minute you say that you are an accountant, a lawyer, a waitress, a househelp, a janitor, you will be quickly classified and it is from that classification that your worth will be measured. Sad, but true.
I have met two people now who, after introducing myself, sought to find out what I do. Make that three, if you count an old lady who was curiously interested in my life. I found that a bit unusual.
One was a hairdresser I happened to go to, to have my hair done. We chatted about my hair for a while – there is so much to be said about dreadlocks. This is the kind of hair you can pretty much choose to forget for a couple of days, and there will be no real damage done to your appearance.
“How old are your dreadlocks?”
“Two years?” I counted mentally to confirm this answer was accurate. Yes it was.
“I think I should also put dreadlocks” she said with a smile. Why does everyone say that? Most people keep promising to ‘put’ dreadlocks every time we have a conversation about my hair.
“It seems so much easier to maintain” she justified herself.
I smiled at her image in the mirror.
“So, where do you work?” she ambushed me.
I say ‘ambushed’ because I did not expect to be asked where I worked. More of what I did. Not where.
She already assumed that I worked somewhere for someone.
“I am a writer” I replied
I was disappointed when she didn’t ask what I wrote about. I could have told her that I had already written our conversation in my head and that I would share it with my blog readers this week. Pity she didn’t ask.
I later thought about it and realized that for all the years that I have been writing, I had never referred to myself as a writer. This was my first time.
It felt good.
Another time that I owned up to being a writer was a week ago while on a bid to participate as a Storymoja Festival blogger. The annual Festival will be running this year from September 17th to 21st. I am happy to have made the cut. You can visit the storymoja blog where I will be a contributor to keep up with the events lined up during this year’s festival. Also visit my other blog – http://perfectlywoman.wordpress.com/ to read my writeups on various issues. Feel free to add your voice.
I consider it a great blessing to have found myself in a room full of young creative, free minds. Bloggers who are very, very, very (can’t stress this enough) passionate about writing. There were those who had forsaken lucrative careers, law was the prevalent jiltee, to simply write. Take Olivia who dropped out of a law degree class because she realized that she did not want to be a lawyer after all, for example. She was at pains to explain to her people that law was not the way for her. Her insistence that she wanted to take an English course was met with disdain – What?! And become an English teacher??? You should have seen the passion in her eyes when she spoke about teaching English. It was palpable.
The thing about one’s passion; be it a writer’s, a lawyer’s, a teacher’s or a waitresses’ is that it fills your life with purpose. You stop considering what you do as a job. It becomes who you are. Even if that (ugly) wig and gown that lawyers wear look good on you, you only find fulfilment the day you start enjoying what you do.
I sat next to Magunga who had just shared on his blog that he had successfully completed a law degree course but was not keen in pursuing a career in law. Why doesn’t anybody want to be a lawyer woiye? He wrote about being nervous at the thought of informing his mother that he wanted to be a writer instead. It cannot be easy to ditch a career that has practically dug a huge hole in your sponsor’s pockets. It isn’t easy, but such is life. You gotta live it! You gotta be happy! Happiness comes with a price sometimes.
The passion that Olivia writes with. The expertise with which Magunga pieces his articles. These can never be ignored. They are ingrained so deep within the core of your being that you just have to let it out. When you gotta write, you gotta write! That room was full of men and women who wanted nothing but to be allowed to do what they love doing. Write.
We understand that there are bills to be paid and that writing might not always give you the financial stability that you seek. Even though I was applauded for quitting my job, there were voices of reason in between the cheers. “When the landlord comes for the rent, make sure you call all these people who are cheering you this minute to help you raise the rent” Magunga whispered to me.
Thing is, writing may not pay a dime, but that compelling feeling will not allow a writer not to write. It cannot be silenced with a six figure salary. I guess in a way, the universe knows that it is at a loss when those people who should be writing, choose not to do it.
I wake up every day to tap away at my computer because I am a writer. It is all I am now. I am no longer a writer clothed as a secretary. I have been laid bare. Writing is not my side hustle anymore. It is not something I do when I have nothing else to do. It might take a while to get where I want to be, but the crazy me believes that as long as I keep doing this persistently, consistently, I might not have to go back to my fellow writers for a quick mchango at the end of the month.
So hey, I am a writer.
I am a writer!
P.S: As I write this, news is streaming in about the Mpeketoni Attacks. I condole with the families who have lost their loved ones to this heinous attack. May God help our country.