A Writing Life: Writing Is Not A Hobby

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Writing Is Not A Hobby

— noun, plural hob·bies. 
  1. an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as main occupation: Her hobbies include stamp-collecting and woodcarving.

I was at the post office a few weeks ago mailing copies of my books to people who had won them in a giveaway. The lady helping me asked what was in the envelopes. I said, "Books." There were multiple envelopes, all the same size and shape. She asked if I was a writer. I said yes. Then she asked the question of doom.

"What do you write?"

I have answered this question a few ways over the years. I say "I'm a romance novelist." Or "I write romance books." It really doesn't matter how I dress it up, or dress it down. I almost always get the same response. A silly grin and a "Oh! That's nice." This partiular person's response was my least favorite of all responses. 

She said, "Oh. That's a nice hobby." The smile she aimed my way might as well have been a pat on the head as if I were a child skipping by her window, happy with the hobby I've chosen.  

I smiled back and tucked her comment away in my brain with all the others. But I am seriouosly considering making a t-shirt that says, "I'm a writer. It's an occupation. Not a hobby." Hobby is even defined (above) as something done for relaxation and not a main occupation. 

I get it. I like writing. I enjoy it. So it must be a hobby, right? Wrong. I know many people who enjoy their work and not one person considers what they do a hobby. And I realize there's this romanticized  imagine in people's heads that we writers sit around in jammies sipping coffee, daydreaming, and tapping away at our keyboards, the muse flowing like a river. The coffee and jammies part is sometimes true, but not always. And most days the jammies part is simply because I didn't have time to change between getting kids off to school and sitting at the computer. 

I write because I love it. I love stories, characters. But many times I'm writing on my iPad in my car while waiting for kids to get out of school. I'm editing into the wee hours of the night because my deadline is the next morning, and I still have to get up and get said children back to school again. Don't believe everything you see or read on social media. Yes, there is roaming done on Pinterest and for we romance writers that includes shirtless men - a perk. But then we must shut out the world and create characters out of thin air and weave plots together to make a story people want to spend time reading. We are studying the craft. Learning. Trying to get better with every book. Not to mention marketing and the business side of things. Don't even get me started...

I would love to challenge everyone with this viewpoint. Go ahead. Sit down. Write a book. Who knows? Maybe you are the next John Grisham. But I guarantee, no matter the outcome, you won't call it a hobby anymore. 

Beacause it's not a hobby. It's work. 

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1 comment:

  1. Omg I am so annoyed at post office lady!! that is so rude. Writing is HARD WORK!!!