What having you been doing?

“So what have you been doing?”

I’m never sure what to reply to this question. It seems to require a concrete answer specific to who’s doing the asking.

If it’s someone I know from my writing community I feel I should answer, “Finished two essays and a chapter!”

If it’s a colleague from the entertainment industry, “Did an episode of ___(fill in the blank)!”

But what if I haven’t been “producing” lately?

Sometimes I’m doing what I call “gathering.” In addition to my duties teaching my weekly kids classes and coaching my private clients, I’m reading a lot, watching films, seeing plays, TV shows, observing people on the street, and spending time with my family.

I have a new step-granddaughter. I visit her weekly and watch her grow into her life. My dad has Alzheimer’s. I visit him weekly too, and I watch him grow out of his.

I’ve learned over the years that these times when I’m not “producing” in an outward material way are just as important as when I can point to a new story or guest spot. I’m gathering material. I’m growing into my next work.

What have I been doing?

Living my life.