Polite society demands a short answer. Especially in a casual conversation, like when you first meet someone at a party and they are doing the civil, you do not want to give a long-winded answer. If extremely interesting, you might be allotted two sentences worth of attention instead of two words. Not paragraphs. Paragraphs are boring. I can see the glaze in your eyes already.
So what do I do?
Am I a photographer? That’s how this blog got started, teaching myself to do travel photography. I did pretty ok, a book came out of it (BTW almost sold out. Get one from Amazon if you want one, because I only have a few more copies.) I met a bunch of cool people, saw some stuff. I teach photography. I made a photo yesterday; I am planning one for today when the light gets right. I know my way around fstops and focal lengths, but…photography for the sake of photography isn’t the driver today. I am interested in stories I can tell with my photographs.
So am I a writer? I write a lot of words. I have a word count in the sidebar, have you noticed? I am writing another book (very slooowly). I write for the local weekly on occasion, sometimes a magazine article. I can string words into sentences with ease and occasional style. So I write, but am I really a writer?
A farmer? Maybe a farmer-in-training. We have trees in the ground and even a farm website. I spend an awful lot of time in the summer worrying about irrigation. But until we have a crop, calling myself a farmer doesn’t seem real.
A homesteader? Is this becoming a homesteading blog? What is a modern homesteader anyway? Apparently you can get a prize for being a good one. Like a rock star, only a dirt star. I make cheese. I am wearing clothes I knit. I burn wood from my own land. I mostly eat food I grew and preserved. I even grow salad in the dead of winter and tweet about it.
Tonight's hoophouse salad is tatsoi (kin to bok choi but all leaf) that needed thinning http://t.co/DL5Lfysoeg
I hang laundry out on a line, except when it’s freezing out (yes I know I could but I have my limits). I can pound a fence post. But I don’t live in a log cabin; we have a clothes dryer and electric heat and city water. I can find my way through London or Paris as easily as Cabelas. I do these homesteading things because I am interested in the skills of self-sufficiency and the quality of life that results.
It’s a mess, and part of the problem is me. I am avoiding the underlying, socially uncouth, implied question, “how do you pay the bills?” It’s complicated AND awkward, because I’m still not fully used to the idea that R pays the bills. I am a stay-at-farm and keep-the-lid-on-things-all-week homesteader. I am a competent photographer even if I’m not shooting weddings every weekend, a decent writer even if I’m not bleeding over the keyboard six hours a day. I sold a dozen eggs once for $4, technically I have farm income. I have a homestead with goats, chickens, hoophouse, garden and orchard, and I haven’t traveled back in time; ergo I am a modern homesteader. Blogging modern homesteader with some side-stream income from photography and writing. How’s that for a pithy answer? Surely that can lead to a good conversation with a stranger?
The blogging-for-dollars advice is to stick to a niche topic, build an audience, sell heaps of ads. I should divide and conquer the Google rankings, have a blog for each topic. Well the Annalog, isn’t going to work like that, ever. I can’t think that way, asking myself if I should put this piece of my story in the photography blog or the apple blog. I might not monetize it very well, but the Annalog is a reflection of what I do, in no particular order that makes any sense, just like my day-to-day life.
In short, it’s going to stay complicated.
And what do you do, may I ask?