I’m about to attend a writing course in Oriveden opisto. It is my first get-away writing course and it feels like starting primary school. I have no idea what to expect! Although I want to take someone’s hand and ask him or her to escort me I know I need to do this by myself. Only I know how this will sort out. Thus, it is better that there is no one bothering my concentration.
When hearing I’m attending a writing course, a relative of mine asked me “So, you want to become a writer?”. I was struck by this question and in a short moment went through several thoughts. Of course I want to become a writer! Being a writer is my secret dream of all ages I have dared to think only for some times now. Oh, but do I need a permission to become a writer?
And that’s it. The question of “Do you want to become writer” is also a matter of others’ recognition. My self-confident me would tell you the following. I am a writer. You see, I’ve been working on a BIG book for two years already and aside written a short story or two. Additionally, I have been purposefully writing every day for more than a year, and sometimes even this blog. However, my less confident me insists adding some clarifications. Yeah, the BIG book is a non-fiction PhD research gaining an audience of 3 people (my supervisor, examiner, and mom). And the one single concluded short story is unpublished and quite clumsy. So not much of recognition there.
Great. No matter how much I detest identity work it seems that that’s just what is going on here in relation to being a writer. Silly me, I thought there would be absolutely no space left for such a debate after drastic academic identity drudgery. Yet, I find myself asking: What does it require to be a writer? Who decides that?
Before waiting for my answer, my relative commented that Finland is full of detective story authors. I sighed and smiled. To my relief I was not required to revel my unsure identity. Thus, I just replied that detective stories are not my cup of tea, as I seem to prefer science fiction, at least as a strong side flavour.
Conversational wittiness will not save me from private Analysis Paralysis. Thus, I have decided to just write. It is quite simple actually. You write.
I lost my voice. Literally. Due to several days of cold and coughing. Unlike my reading pause, my talking pause has not been voluntary. I have had to cancel meetings and focus on healing my voice for teaching.
Yet, not talking has been inspiring. First of all, I have suddenly all this unplanned extra time due to cancelled meetings. Thus, I have been able to plan, write and read. Great! Second, not talking doesn’t mean no communication. Smile and a nod has taken me far when meeting someone. They might not even notice that I don’t speak. In Finland that is possible.
Maybe most educational has been the fact that I have been forced to listen to others. Only body language, like nodding, smiling, and at home wrinkling my nose and rolling my eyes. It is hard not to comment! For instance yesterday my colleague said something I would have normally started to debate, may I say heatedly. This time I just nodded and continued listening. Actually, it happened that my colleague answered all my questions without me asking them as I only let time pass.
I propose a deliberate talking pause for everyone once in a while. It can be as short as 10 minutes. Don’t wait for losing your voice, as that’s not very good for anyone. However, listening to others is very good for everyone. It builds up patience and signals respect. I want to take this time and listen what you have to say.
I attended a workshop about corporate social responsibility (CSR) through Hub Catalyst. It was like coming home, in many ways. Hub Helsinki is a lovely place. Additionally, CSR is something, which attracted me during my studies in a business school and I ended up doing my Master’s Thesis related to CSR and retail sector. But that’s not what I wanted to write about.
In the workshop I realised how hard it is to introduce oneself comprehensively and shortly. Typically, people tell who they are (easy), where they come from (mostly easy), what they do (quite easy) and what are their expectations for the meeting (easy when being honest). It gets complicated when one tries to sum up past experience, as getting older means a high probability of more experience. What to tell and what to leave out?
I realised that when I leave out things, I can portray myself in different ways. For instance, I can focus on my NGO background highlighting my past in the student movement. Additionally, I can refer to my inspiring international experience on Nordic and European level. Moreover, I can point out that I have been engaged with development cooperation issues on top of educational and international affairs. Or alternatively, I can skip the whole NGO history and focus on my research and teaching experience, which is unavoidably gaining growth rings as grass grows.
So in social connections I can choose how I want to present myself. It is like choosing clothes in the morning. What do I feel like today? Turquoise or lime? Cosy or sharp? Do I feel like an activist, a teacher, or a business school graduate? Or a teaching activist with new business in mind? Or simply a PhD candidate with research projects?
Of course choosing my pitch is not enough. People make conclusions about me also from other information than what I say, for instance where I come from or what I look like. And that’s another story. For that matter, today I felt like a turquoise researcher: deep, endless, and lots of thoughts like fish swimming in a sea.