So, what do you write?

From cocktail parties to client meetings, the question is inevitable: What do you do? followed by, What do you write?

I always fumble for an answer. Am I a journalist? a freelance writer? publicist? poet? instructor?

I am all of these, in succession and all at once. But “I’m a writer/marketing professional/instructor . . . ” is an unwieldy response that is returned with wrinkles of doubt and a swift walk away from the babbling woman who lacks a sense of self.

I am a former newspaper reporter and editor, and I run a marketing communications firm that promotes businesses and organizations. I am a poet, published in journals and books. I work with youth, leading writing groups and classes. I am an occasional travel writer. I write ad copy for agencies. To add to the confusion, the other evening I was introduced as a blogger.

It gets too much to explain. This writer’s role is full and assorted. Most writers-for-hire (which sounds crass and commercial but does make a point) juggle a variety of clients, topics and titles.

So what do you call the writer who has not written a best-selling novel (and has no such plans) but still uses words to explain, ignite, assist and inspire?

At WordCount, Michelle Rafter proposes the end of “freelance writer” in favor of “journalist entrepreneur.” She’s got a point and has sparked a spirited conversation.

Meanwhile, I’m still sorting myself out. As a communicator seeking definition, I am my most difficult assignment.