(In which the author of this blog tries to start a blog war with another very nice author out of a desperate need for attention and/or nothing better to do before bed)

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).


3 Responses to “(In which the author of this blog tries to start a blog war with another very nice author out of a desperate need for attention and/or nothing better to do before bed)”

  1. I think it depends on how you look at it. 🙂

    Both of you have a point here. You both spend a lot of time at writing (I’m guessing here 😛 ) and you both see yourselves as writers. Whether you call yourself a writer or a… let me think… clerk for example is, in the end of it, rather unimportant. The main thing is that you write. And write well, at that, so we’ll all be able to read it in the end. 😉

    Myself, I see myself as a hobby writer. (And honestly, right now I’m not hing more than a very lowly hobby writer, seeing as I’m writing for the pure writing fun and only for myself 😉 ). I can see why you would prefer to call yourself a writer when you spend most of your time working on and thinking of your writing in terms of getting published and sharing it with a wide public.

    If I think of it, calling myself a writer would probably give me a personal push to write more than I would for a mere hobby. I’d have to reach a goal every day, and I’d have to think of my, example again, clerk job as a security net, but the writing one as my goal.

    I say it’s your mindset, but in the end, all that counts is that you do the writing, not what you call it. 😉

    Just my 2 cents, of course.

  2. Matt,

    Yeah, well…so’s your mother!

    No seriously 🙂 Now that I hear you toss off the phrase “hobby writer” like it’s a common one, I can understand better your adversion to it.

    I know someone who has a degree in creative writing, and I asked her if she still wrote. She said “Now and then. When the mood strikes me.” It felt like a colossal shame.

    On the other hand, I’ve been a homemaker for so long that I’m totally accustomed to the idea that my day job is not what defines me. It’s the “what else do you do” that defines me. And I’m quite serious about writing. I just don’t make plans around the writing supporting me. Daydreams about being a runaway bestseller, perhaps, but not plans.

    I think Jerome’s right in that there are three different paths for serious writers.

    You can do nothing but writing. You will either make it big and support yourself, or more likely, you will starve in a garrett (presuming you can find a girlfriend/boyfriend who lets you couchsurf in their garrett).

    You can have a job that has nothing to do with writing, then write in your free time. This works best if you don’t have a lot of other things asking for a piece of your free time.

    You can have a job (or in Jerome’s case, nine jobs) that’s similar to writing. That way, even when you’re not upping your word count, you’re still dealing with either creativity or language.

    If I were to suggest which second job to avoid, the only stipulation I’d say is “avoid a job where you’re in front of a comptuter for long hours.” Unless, that is, you are the sort who writes in longhand.


  3. […] replied, in a post cunningly titled “In which the author of this blog tries to start a blog war with another […]

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