Last night I had beautiful snow. This morning it was melting so hard it sounded like rains and floods. I didn’t even get a picture of it. Sigh.
I wanted to talk a little bit about how being a ‘hobbyist’ has become something of a dirty word, like those authors are somehow lesser. I suppose by strict definition maybe but in reality, bullshit. I was speaking of this with a friend the other day. Sometime last year, coming out of a very long and dark depression in which I wrote very little (I’ve written as much in the first 7 weeks of 2018 as I had by April of last year, maybe even June), I realized something. I could be considered a hobbyist and I needed to come to peace with that.
And mostly I have. A little background for those who don’t know me, I was a medical doctor who was injured and can not longer practice (podiatry, diabetic care). I’m now a college professor. I have student loans that if I didn’t have income based repayment plans in place would total over 2,600 a month (my plan is about 1500 less than that). The realities of me living on my writing are unless I’m J K Rowling or James Patterson, I’m NOT going to live on my writing.
Even as a decent midlist author I couldn’t fund my life on my writing (at least not alone. Maybe if I had a well off significant other but I do not). Even before last year I had notice some very unsettling things. Thanks to blogs and the rest of social media, we all have a window into the lives of our favorite authors (or as much as they feel like sharing). I stumbled across Barbara Hambly’s blog. She was my hero in the 80s and 90s. She wrote cross genre (urban fantasy, fantasy, sci-fi and mystery) when everyone said you couldn’t but I knew I wanted to. I adored her James Asher series and yet here she was, just like me, teaching at a university and struggling to make ends meet. An author with dozens of books to her name and still with a day job.
THis week I saw Diane Duane nearly lost her house (her fans came through). Another author with dozens of books to her name, well known series like the Young Wizards and countless Star Trek credits almost failing to survive living on her writing.
Of course I don’t know their full stories or struggles but the point is it’s SO much easier said than done to living on your writing. So if having a day job makes me a ‘hobbyist’ then so be it but that doesn’t mean I’m NOT a real author because damn it, I am and so is every last one of us who write and have another job.
Just look around my Facebook friends’ list, I see doctors like me, vets, lawyers, professors, all jobs that took years of sacrifice and hard work to get there and why should we give that up when we can do both. And there are so many others out there working jobs they love and want to do both.
We are not lesser authors. We are simply authors like any other.