The truth can sting like a bee to a warm, plump thigh. When a “shark” from TV’s Shark Tank bluntly tells the contestant, “This is a hobby, and not a business,” a fight or flight switches on. Either anger ignites his checks to red or he cowers in admittance that maybe the “shark” is correct.
There is much conversation about why writers write. There are endless simple answers to this question: expression, a really cool story, fun, an escape, explore an idea, what you see, feel, can’t understand, it makes you happy, tell stories, learn, not be lonely, leave a legacy, discover, to draw into the present moments, to find answers, a creative outlet. You may have some of your own. But do any reasons define your writing as a hobby or a job? You don’t have to know why you write to delineate between the two. Your writing is a hobby – and a job.
Hobbies are fun and relaxing. My crafty hobbies as a young girl – sewing, knitting, making things with my hands, cooking, artsy things – are the same ones I have today. I understand a sensitivity to the “hobby” label as it could denote a lack of seriousness and legitimacy to what you do. Conversely, a job is taken seriously and the work is genuine; you also get paid.
When I am not writing, I am reading about the writing life and my genre in continuing with my self-imposed education. My classroom is online media: blogs, writer’s magazines, guides and websites. I can even due my own diligence online in deciding – traditional or self -publishing– depending on what best fits my needs. I can spend hundreds, if not, thousands of dollars on coaching, classes and editors. I can search online for daily paid writing assignments. I can even pursue an advance degree, an MFA.
My memoir manuscript is ready for its next big step and my essays and shorter works are available to find homes. I am on a continuous journey to crafting new writings, finalizing my current works and researching publishing venues. And then I realize I can’t keep up with the overload of needing to figure out who I am as a writer, what I should do next and how to get where I should be. The pressure to stay on top, to get out there, to muscle through the competition takes over. I don’t want to expand my platform. It’s not for me and I’m not going to do something just because everyone else is doing it.
Trying to stay educated and current in the marketplace can be overwhelming. But once I start feeling discouraged and think I am a small player in a big pool of serious sharks, I pause and take a deeper seat in my chair and a cleansing inhale. I revisit the reasons why I write and reaffirm that, yes; it is a job – work – and a hobby, not bad things. I attend to both with focus and seriousness. I make my writing in pursuit of the best of my craft.
I make it my job to continue to write, to feel passionate about my work, to take it seriously, to defend it from illegitimacy and to write for the reasons you probably do too.