Recently, I read a book about an art project by Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher which ran from 2002 to 2009. The project, which was a crowdsourced collaborative art project, aimed to engage random people in arty activities. The two artists asked people via their website to complete assignments, which could involve a variety of media such as pens, paint, collage, video and audio, and post the results to the website. The book is fascinating and shows just how creative and open about their lives people can be. Assignments included: no. 6) Make a poster of shadows; no. 9) Draw a constellation from someone’s freckles; no. 14) Write your life story in less than a day; and 39) Take a photograph of your parents kissing.
One of the assignments that I felt like trying myself was this one (no. 35): Ask your family to describe what you do. This assignment asked for descriptions of people’s day-long activities by three family members. However, I wanted to focus it on work as nobody seems to get what I do for a living. So I asked a few friends and family to describe what they think I do (age range from 5 to 75). This is what they came up with:
‘You do things on a laptop.’
‘You write book blurbs.’
‘You seem to spend a lot of time on your laptop, I think that you read through new books and correct mistakes, grammar and spelling. I also think that you write the blurb at the beginning of the book, though not totally sure about this. You seem to spend a lot of time doing conference calls, I am sure these are work related. I am sure there is more to your job than I have described, but I guess I have never asked you.’
‘I think you edit writing for a living. I imagine you sitting, having to read lots of boring technical or factual drafts of books or papers.’
‘I think you’re a proof reader (not even sure that’s actually the proper name) you check things for spelling mistakes and grammar issues but I’m not sure what you check , I know its not novels like 50 shades of grey haha and you have meetings on the phone. You also paint but not nearly as much as you’d like. Am I at all close?’
‘I think you edit text books for Oxford press .You have to write the resume I presume and what goes on the cover and all sort of other technical things. All this on your computer and telephone meetings.’
‘I used to know what you did – proof reading non fiction books for OUP. Now you do something to do with project managing them being published but I admit I always get a bit lost!’
‘I think you make VSIs on lots of different subjects.’
Some elements are correct, clearly taken from snippets of conversation I’ve had with people. But nobody has quite got the full job description. I hope that more people respond and if they do I’ll post here as it amuses me that my job is hard to describe.