I have thought long and hard over this month’s topic. For days I just wanted to pass this one, because if there is one thing I’m sure of, it’s that I’m not a professional writer. Differently from everybody else, I’m not sure if I’d ever want to be. But then I think I should elaborate the thought a bit more so we could all be on the same page on this.
To me, a professional writer has mostly been the image of Ernest Hemingway sitting in a hut somewhere, alone, hunched and typing away. Or a Victorian man dressed in his Sunday best puffing cigarets in their office and their wives hushing children “careful, you don’t want to disturb your daddy, now do you?”. In other words – anything but what my real life looks like. I especially find the last image disturbing, because I’ve never been altruistic enough to sacrifice memories with my family for writing the ultimate new shocker in literature.
Therefore, I prefer writing as a hobby. I don’t think it means hiding away from any responsibilities if I get a contract or not keeping up schedules I set myself up to. I’m very unprofessional when schedules are concerned right now, but I could take doctor’s paper for it if you ask. It’s just the sense of freedom it gives, the understanding that your entire income is not waged down on your next manuscript, yet that’s exact situation for most professionals. I’d die in ulcers faster than you can say 1-2-3. Especially here, in my country where the chances to get published as a new writer are paper thin.
Professionalism is firsthand techniques you use to create your product. It is the stadium of your career, where you don’t have to dig through books to understand why something isn’t working and you can calmly concentrate on the task in hand. I gladly hold up posters of old musicians and say “here are the true professionals”. Think of Peter Gabriel or Phil Collins. They might not be loved by everyone around the business, but they are respected for they always get their work done and they do it without extra fuss. I think professional writer means exactly the same – you can count on them to do their part and the chariot of publishing can roll in peace, not worry over new horse that just needs to break free and establish it’s boundaries.
In this light, of course I would like to be a professional one day in the art of writing, too. I want to be able to do my work and enjoy the process and not feel the need to dig back in technical books to understand why one thing or another isn’t working out. Having talent is nice, but having techniques is even better.
Yet I still prefer writing to be my hobby. I like the illusion of doing it just for fun with no ulcers included in the package.
Today’s post is my response to the prompt on “Professional Writer” this month’s topic for the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Throughout the month, you can get to know twenty (or so) other writers from various genres and backgrounds and at various places in their careers.
Next stop on the tour is B.C. Matthews on October 21st, 2012