So a few days ago a former teacher of mine sent out a call for writing advice to share with her new students. Specifically, advice about how to balance a writing life with the very likely day-job. Fellow Clarion alum and KT Literary client Catherine Cheek replied with a very nice response which she also blogged about here, and subsequently linked here by our agent extraordinaire.
In the interest of fairness, and petty one-upsmanship, I will now share my own small response that was originally a part of that discussion. My thoughts are brief and nowhere near as well thought out, but they do reflect a serious concern of mine – The Danger of the Hobby Writer!
Enjoy. (or if Kater’s reading this – come and flame me!)
I agree with a lot of what’s been said but . . . I absolutely abhor, dread and despise the term “hobby writer” (but I absolutely love, admire and celebrate Kater!).
I certainly agree that writers must come up with a financial safety net, whether that is a day-job with benefits or employed spouse. But I’ve known several aspiring authorly friends over the years whose writing careers ended not with a bang or whimper, but with the words “I’m more of a hobby writer now.”
It takes such devotion, such a ridiculous faith-in-one’s own worth to be a writer that I think it needs to always be at the front of your ambition. A writer needs to cover the basic hierarchy of needs, and that usually comes in the form of a day job, but that is only to support the writing.
I’ve sold two books, but I’m the sole support of my family of three, therefore I teach English and ESL at the community college, which is a rewarding job with time off to write. I’m planning to have a day job for a long, long time, even if I sell more books, because that’s the reality of this business for most of us.
But on my taxes I put “Writer”.
When asked what I do for a living, I answer “Writer”.
My “hobby” is collecting comic books (yes I’m that kind of nerd).