In the last eight months there have been several occasions on which I’ve had to name my occupation. Forms at the doctor’s office. Surveys. Applications for this or that. It used to be easy. I’d write “lawyer” or, if I was feeling a tad pretentious that day, “attorney.” It’s not as easy anymore.
The most technically correct term for what I do and what I am is probably “blogger.” But for as much as I love and defend the fine art of blogging, the title “blogger” sounds a bit, I dunno, silly. And even if didn’t sound silly it’s not always a useful term. Sure, anyone reading this or generally surfing around the web will be cool with it, but anyone who isn’t at least moderately Internet savvy – which is a lot more people than you may realize – has trouble with the term. If they’ve heard it at all, it probably was used in some bullshit newspaper trend piece about how the lowering of journalistic standards is ushering in the End Times. If they haven’t heard the term it takes so much time to explain what I do that the thumbnailing purpose of a title is defeated anyway.
I’ve toyed with “writer,” but that’s even more pretentious than “attorney." For one thing it’s vague. What do you write? Are you a writer of novels? Children’s books? Instruction manuals for washing machines? Saying you’re a "writer” is less a description of one’s occupation than it is a lifestyle statement. A person who says that they’re “a writer” – and nothing more – is usually trying to tell you that they’re an intellectually-inclined soul who wears interesting and/or complicated glasses, doesn’t hold up all that well when their political assumptions are challenged and likes jazz a little too much. Or they’re trying to get laid. Either way, the only people who can really get away with calling themselves “writers” are people who have written a novel, a thin volume of half-decent poetry and an interesting though ultimately rejected screenplay. The rest of us are poseurs.
That led me to “baseball writer.” First time I whipped that one out, however, I was asked which team I covered and why I wasn’t at the ballpark that night. That aside, it’s the best I had been able to come up with and – after explaining that I’m closer to being a columnist than a beat writer – it satisfies most people.
But it’s not perfect. No, the closest to perfect is a description my friend Ethan came up with this morning:
I just realized: You’re a DJ for the baseball news. You don’t create the news; you aren’t the news; you just riff on the news. You keep the music (news) going. You know you have to play what’s hot, but it’s your mix and your patter, and you throw in an oldie or an obscure Smiths single when you want to, dammit.
I’ve taken to telling people that I’ve only had two jobs I’ve ever liked. Turns out they were the same job all along.