Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Some Authors Don't Like Me

It’s taboo in writing circles to call writing a hobby. Needless to say, I’ve upset a few people in writing circles, but frankly, I’m not overly concerned because I think there are a lot of writer types who think too highly of themselves. What is wrong with calling writing a hobby?

I think the reason it is taboo is because so many people attend writer conferences and hear the so called experts tell them that they should view it as a business rather than a hobby. For tax purposes and expense purposes, I totally agree, but the reality of the situation is that if writing is a business, most writers are pretty lousy businessmen. It takes about three months to write a novel. The author then takes the manuscript and sends it off to a bunch of people, usually only to receive a rejection letter from some and no feedback at all from most. After having had the manuscript rejected, the typical author sits down and writes another and then another. After doing this a few times, a few of them actually get a contract from a publisher. But while they are doing this, they are also spending about $1,000 a year going to writer conferences. No business can survive if the owner keeps losing money. So, if the author is losing money, why keep going?

If instead of looking at writing as a business, we look at it as an activity that someone does for enjoyment, all that money they are dumping into it makes more sense. Of course, I say that while I have to report to Uncle Sam that I am making a profit from writing—very small, but a profit nonetheless. I don’t, however, make enough to quit my day job. I’m fine with that. I’m more than fine with that because there are aspects of my day job I enjoy as much or more than writing and I don’t have the stress of trying to live from my art. But when people view writing as something they do for enjoyment and to relieve stress, it makes sense to tell them to keep writing in the face of rejection. Someday, they may produce something that won’t be rejected and maybe it will turn into something other than a hobby, but until then, most authors should view it has a hobby.