So, the other day, my older daughter said, “I want to write when I grow up, but not like a job. I want to do it as a hobby, like you.”
I could have killed her. It’s one thing to hear my work called a hobby by the rest of the world, but my own kid? This dream, this holy thing I put so much of my energy into, a hobby? How could my own child feel that way? I mean, we aren’t talking about stamp collecting, here.
It did get me thinking, once I was done being mad.
I spend most of my time at the day job. The one that keeps a roof over the head of the above mentioned ungrateful child and her sister. Usually I get no more than two hours a day to devote to writing, if that. I don’t make much money writing. So, what does make my writing more than a hobby?
My intentions, that’s what.
I intend to be a full time writer. I work every day toward that intention, even if it is only two hours. I send my work out and I seek knowledge to improve my craft. I take it seriously. I don’t, in other words, treat it like stamp collecting.
I intend to produce a worthwhile product.
If this was no more than a hobby, I could just write whatever I liked, and not bother making my stories great. But I take the work of storytelling seriously. I write, rewrite, and rewrite again. I work hard to make the stories I tell the best that I can make them. That’s way more effort than I would be willing to put in if this was just a hobby.
I call myself a writer.
When someone asks what I do, I say, “I’m a writer.” The day job is not what I do. Writing is what I do. My writing is on my mind through the day. I love that time I get to spend working on it. And the worst bit of garbage I’ve ever written still brings me more pride than anything I’ve ever done at the day job. To be clear, I’m pretty damn proud of a lot of the stuff I do at the day job. But when I write something, it didn’t exist before. This blog, it wasn’t there before I wrote it. To paraphrase the old military line, “This is my blog. There are many like it, but this one is mine.”
Stamps, on the other hand, were already there.
To sum it all up, how I treat the act and idea of writing, the level of time, respect and passion I put into my writing is what makes me a writer. Not how much money I make, or don’t make, I am a writer.