Life-guard duties and wake-up calls...

>> Tuesday, 3 August 2010

One of the great things about holidaying with friends who have children of a similar age to your own is that the job of entertaining your offspring all is not just halved but quartered. Not only do you have other like-minded adults to help with the camp organiser duties, but the kids themselves are quite happy to tear the place up themselves with no thought to asking for adult interference.

In fact, it appears that they prefer you don't get involved at all, other than in essential cases like reaching the too-high handle of the freezer door to access the ice-creams, providing an endless supply of snacks and meals (the less healthy the better, obviously), and to act as life-guards around the rather too-deep pool (well, you can't have everything).

This sudden - and very welcome - reduction in duties has meant that over the last few days I've had the opportunity to laze in the sun and try to -unsuccessfully - tan out the strap marks on my feet acquired due to an early summer spent in an unwise choice of strappy sandal (admittedly, choices of affordable footwear are limited in Moscow but really, what was I thinking??), and also - less trivially, perhaps - to ponder the fact that come September, when Boy #2 joins his older brother full-time at school, it's time to start putting my money where my mouth is and start motoring on 'the writing stuff'.

I had already formulated an extremely sketchy strategy (involving getting paid large amounts of money and being generally lauded for my extreme fabulousness, in return for minimum amounts of work, obviously), when I came across this post on the BlogHer site by Her Bad Mother, which provided something of a wake-up call.

In it, Catherine (Her Bad Mother) writes of how she was detained when travelling through US Customs by Homeland Security because - get this - she told them that the purpose of her visit to the United States was to attend a Yahoo conference as a mum blogger, and the male officers she was being interviewed by didn't believe that to be such a thing could possibly be a real, professional, paying job. To the extent that the question 'who do you really work for?' was even asked.

This does seem a rather short-sighted misogynistic attitude on their part regarding the validity of basing a career on writing about being a mother. I don't think, for example, that if a male writer for Loaded magazine told them the purpose of his visit to the US was to go to various bars to find girls willing to take part in a feature called 'We Like Big Boobs', he would be pulled aside for an hour long interview. I hate to say it, but I rather think they would shake his hand as he was waved through the VIP channel...

But I think that what really bothers me here is that if Her Bad Mother - a very successful blogger - gets pulled up and asked these sort of questions (and let's face it, which of us hasn't been faced with blank faces and questions like 'Hang on. Do you mean to tell me that you write about your life with the kids and people not related to you actually read it? And then come back for more?'), what chance do I stand of making this 'writing stuff' work?

Hmm. That strategy I mentioned earlier? May need fine tuning a little...


Expat mum 3 August 2010 at 17:50  

I avoid the "blog" word at all costs. Lots of people don't understand it, or roll their eyes when they hear it. I even told most people that CyberMummy was a "sort of writing conference". Well, it was wasn't it?

nappy valley girl 3 August 2010 at 17:57  

She probably got questioned because if you are a journalist, you have to enter the US on a special journalist visa. I once fell foul of US customs for mentioning this while on a business trip - I just had a normal visa waiver, but I was told sternly that 'next time, get a journalist visa'. On subsequent trips I just said I worked in publishing...

That aside, I think it is perfectly legitimate to say you are a blogger. After all bloggers are a hot commodity these days.....

Helen 3 August 2010 at 19:02  

I tend to think of it as "The first rule about blogging is you don't talk about blogging!" I never admit the blogging thing publicly, not ever. It almost feels like people will look at you funny, as though you'd say you have your home wallpapered with New Kids on the Block wallpaper or have Take That tattooed across the whole of your upper back - people don't often get it.

Jo Beaufoix 4 August 2010 at 00:29  

Lovely Potty, your writing is brilliant and there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't be thinking along those lines. Go for it.

I'm planning on getting more 'writing' done too. xx

Milla 5 August 2010 at 17:14  

oh, Potty dear, don't! was just trying to work through the horrors of trying to get a job, to earn money and, tempting fantasies aside, ahd come to the conclusion that I just don't stand a chance any more at anything. All rather depressing. It's that thwacking great hole in the old CV which is so impossible to traverse. I've loved being an At Home but I can see it counting terribly against me.

2 kids and a dog 7 August 2010 at 22:03  

God...I'm American and feel embarrassed ... Everytime I go home (I live in Italy) they smile and say "welcome home". Then they look at my husband (he is Italian) with furrowed brow and ask him a zillion questions, subtext: we know you've got something up your sleeve, you ain't american!

Iota 9 August 2010 at 11:59  

Ah, well, when you've got this writing thing sorted, let me know, because I could use some tips.

And yes, definitely best not to talk about blogging too much. It's an odd concept, really, when you think of it.

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