I’ve been thinking a lot lately about writing as a profession and writing as a hobby. I have been a writer for a long time, and being published is actually part of my day job, but the writing that I do professionally is literary criticism, not exactly the kind of page turner you snuggle up with on a cozy evening.
In an effort to be more true to myself–or perhaps as a way to thumb my nose at the stuffy establishment, I don’t know–I started writing fiction. As I mentioned in my previous post, this all happened rather recently, and in the past year, I’ve completed several manuscripts. But here’s the rub; I started out writing these manuscripts as a hobby. I had a whole bunch of “what ifs” in my head. What if a reclusive, borderline alcoholic had the power to stop time–a power she couldn’t control? What if there were an all-male escort agency that specialized in black men? Ooo, wouldn’t it be fun to see where those questions take me? Well, let’s find out.
So I wrote something. I wrote a couple of somethings. I cleaned them up. I edited them. And then I said, “Ok, now what?”
So for a person who is used to sending things out for consideration for publication, that’s exactly what I did. I thought, Oh, that was fun. I enjoyed writing those things. And in between the day job and the family and the waiting to hear back from publishers, I started to tinker with something else, putting a few words down on the page when the mood hit me because, you know, writing was my hobby. Exercising, watching tv, long walks on the beach, cooking, writing–hobbies. My hobbies.
Then I got a response from a publisher. They like my story! I need to fix it, but they like it! Whoo hoo! Yes! What a fun hobby. Let me fix this in my spare time. So I did, and I sent it back, and the revisions work. Awesome! Tentative date set for it to come out. Contract is coming. All is good.
Then she asks me: Where is the next one?
I was actually almost done with it. The tinkering was working well. A word here, a sentence there, a couple of pages on the weekend, and that’s how something can get written. And it did, and I sent it, and she liked it, and she told me how to fix it, and then it hit me.
This is no longer a hobby. This is a profession.
So now here I sit, neck deep in deadlines and outlines and drafts and revisions and new ideas, and I love it. I have goals that I hold myself accountable for, just like I do on the day job. And in between putting new words on the page and revising old ones, I’m learning about branding and social networking and going to conferences and establishing an identity–a professional identity–as a writer.
And I love it.