We tend to think of ourselves as a single, continuous existence. But even over the course of a single year, it’s amazing how much can change. It doesn’t even have to be a year of upheaval. A while back, I posted a writing exercise I did for Geraldine Brooks workshop at Iceland Writers Retreat. I actually took two of her workshops. The second writing exercise was to introduce yourself, to basically give your own personal elevator speech. I wrote this in April, and it’s amazing to me how much of it no longer applies to me this December. I can’t wait to see what I will write about myself in 2015.
The business cards stacked in my cubicle back in Seattle say “Gemma Alexander – Writer.” I agonized over that decision. They could have said “Technical Writer,” or “Staff Writer,” or “Communications Specialist.” They properly should have said, “Project/Program Manager III” because that is my official King County job classification. I was hired to translate government documents into something normal people understand, something the King County Executive style guide calls “Plain English” so I settled on just plain “Writer.” I would have liked them to say “Creative Writer,” but solid waste agencies – that’s garbage, not poop – do not hire creative writers. If I want to become a creative writer, I have to do that on my own time.
Once I posed as a freelance music journalist (plain English translation: blogger) and printed another set of cards that say “Gemma Alexander – Pretty Decent Writer.” “Have pen, will travel” was already taken, and “Will write for plane tickets,” while true, belongs on a cardboard sign in sharpie. I don’t usually take trips like this one, with itineraries and included meals, hotel beds with sheets. I usually travel in a style I like to call “dirt bag.” When I travel, the budget airfare still costs more than the rest of the trip. I sleep in dormitories, carry a backpack, and make my plans day by day. I’ve never gotten high and danced on the beach under a full moon in Goa, but in my travels, I seem to meet a lot of people who have. I like meeting those global Goa nomads, almost as much as making spontaneous connections with the people who live in the places I visit. I don’t meet many people in my cubicle.