I’ve had a bit of rare free time this week and it’s meant I’ve been contemplating what do do with myself, occupation-wise, now we’ve landed and (pretty much) settled in to our new lives in Switzerland.
I think if I wanted to make this blog really huge, I’d make it a mum blog. The genre has become super popular and the good ones are excellent. But I don’t know if I want to hang my shingle on Clairevetica alone. Besides, the “mum blog” is not really me. I don’t feel like I’ve got a lot to say to the unknown masses about mothering or parenthood. I enjoy it, but it’s personal. I’m happy to give advice and share experiences with friends, but I don’t need to tell the world about it. That said, I’m sure I’ll write a few posts on parenthood and my whole experience is obviously coloured by the fact that I’m here with my son and husband.
When I became a mum, particularly when I was on maternity leave, people would make suggestions like: why don’t you write a book about motherhood? You could look for work on a parenting magazine*! Why not write kids books? Huh? Just because I’ve given birth doesn’t mean I’m automatically interested in all things child-related. I mean, sure, I am interested in those things as they affect me. But that massive shift in focus to a single focus?… nuh-uh. Sorry. Would people make the same suggestions to my husband? I doubt it.
So while I love my son dearly and I mostly enjoy being a parent, it’s just Not. My. Main. Thing. It feels a bit weird to write that, actually. Because it sort of is my main thing – it probably takes up the biggest portion of my time and a fair chunk of my mental space. Especially since I had to give up my job to move here (although I’ve done and am doing a fair bit of freelancing). But, at the risk of sounding like an asshole, as far as kids go, I’m mostly only interested in my own (and my friends’ children, I am not a complete monster). Besides, my son will grow up. He’s already growing up! Why would I want to remain stuck in babyland?
When my parents were here recently, my dad made a rather ill-advised comment about how I should perhaps become an actor, or a teacher! Why would I throw away 20 years of work experience in an industry I enjoy to start from scratch? Again, would he make such a suggestion to my husband? I do try to take this sort of comment positively – like I’m so talented and flexible, I could do anything I set my mind to (!) – and I know my father, and the baby-book suggesters, were not intending to be rude. But it’s still rather perplexing. Like my previous adult life’s achievements don’t really rate.
Anyway. So what life-occupations am I looking for? Well, without particularly meaning to, I have been pressing the flesh a bit here. I’ve had meetings and discussions with a few people running their own writing/editing/marketing businesses from Zurich, and the possibility of sending work my way has been aired. Then they come back and ask me stuff like: what are my strengths, how much do I want to be paid etc. and I’m a bit stumped. So here’s the best working-draft I can come up with, for the purposes of clarifying it in my own mind if nothing else:
I want to do writing and/or editing and/or work on projects that are interesting to me. What I find interesting is a piece of work that I can have some autonomy on, and that I can help shape the direction of. I can do freelance bits and pieces but for longer-term/ in general, I want some “skin in the game” or else it doesn’t really hold my attention. I want pieces of work that finish and have a tangible output that I can point to and feel proud of. These jobs could be in the context of an ongoing role/project or discrete pieces of work. I am happy to work hard, but I don’t like wasted effort. I don’t expect to become a millionare or I wouldn’t be in publishing. But I need to get paid a fair and reasonable amount. You’d be surprised how long research, picture sourcing and thinking can take and no one wants to pay for those non-output aspects of the job.
I don’t think I’m particularly wild to start my own business. Because: in what? I enjoy collaborating with people – I think two heads are usually better than one. If you find someone you really work well with, it’s such a joy and I find it extremely motivating. If I had a good idea for a business, and a great partner, I’d do it. But at the moment it’s not something I have a huge yen for. I’d also like to write a novel, but that’s a lot of working on my own. I think I kinda need that spur – that obligation to complete for somebody or with somebody or by somebody.
So I guess that’s it – my non-mum-blog manifesto. Well, if I can have a musing (amusing?) ramble on me own blog, where can I? Shut up.
*Ok so I edited my local NCT mag Tottenham Tots for 18 months. But that was a large editorial project where I did all the layouts myself in InDesign, sourced and wrote stories, sourced and took images, placed ads… a wonderful, satisfying and extremely educational experience!