Wanted: “Real” Professionals, Writers Need Not Apply by Jami Gray
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Jami Gray as she shares with us “Wanted: “Real” Professionals, Writers Need Not Apply.” Enjoy!
Like many writers, my ultimate goal is to write full-time and earn a living. Thanks to a corporate reduction, I got half of my wish. I no longer have any excuses for not taking advantage of my suddenly empty schedule, and have filled it accordingly with word goals galore. While my recent status change can be viewed as an unexpectedly blessing, I discovered I harbored a dirty little secret—I didn’t consider writing a job.
Now don’t start throwing rotten veggies my way, give me a chance to work through this. I have a feeling I’m not the only one hiding this belief in a tiny room in my mental attic.
When I first dared to open this well hidden flaw, I was shocked. Writing is not easy, and I’ll be the first to declare it far and wide. It’s not easy piecing those words, building those worlds, and creating those characters that will resonate with our readers. It’s a mental and emotional obstacle course writers train years to face. Knowing this, why was I so hesitant to admit that my current “job” was writer?
Whether it’s my years of traversing the mazes of character motivation or therapy, here’s what I realized. I have worked since I was fourteen. Be it flipping burgers, waiting tables, shelving books, selling cutlery and china, cleaning hotel rooms, running desks, taking calls, or creating analytical business reports, I have always had a job, if not two or three. It’s been thirty plus years of doing this stuff for a steady paycheck, while I fought for time to indulge in my other love, writing.
When my income stream went from “steady” to “cross your fingers”, I began to worry I wasn’t pulling my weight on familial obligations, and guilt snuck in and joined an undermining campaign with self-confidence. When they got through with me, I found myself believing that without a steady income stream, I was somehow not working hard enough.
Yes, I know, but it took a bit to get out of that cage match of doubt. To win that battle I had to make peace with a strange phenomenon. Just because I was doing something I didn’t consider “work”, didn’t make what I was doing less valuable than fighting through rush hour traffic at the butt crack of dawn, hunkering inside my cubicle, churning out required “results”, and garnering a paycheck for the fifty plus hours of stress I faced. I work hard to hit my word count goals every day.
Writing may not garner you a guaranteed check every two weeks, but it is still a job. Being a writer still requires self-discipline, structure, mental strength and stamina, commitment, and a willingness to present the world with the final result of your hard work. It’s rarely easy, and struggling for hours on end to carve out your story will leave your brain leaking from your ears. And that’s not even touching on the whole business side of things when you join the mad world of marketing, social media, and all the other craziness a writer must navigate.
I read this great article by Kristen Houghton for Huff Post Books where she talks about how others curl their lips in disdain when she tells them she’s a writer. Too many people, writers included, consider the job of “writer” as some how less important than a traditional positions. For some reason, our time and work is not considered as valuable as an office position.
Why? We’re artists who sink hours upon thankless hours of “work” into our creations, and our return on our investment? It’s not comparable to a “professional’s salary”. We don’t have paid benefits or vacation. We struggle alone, unless we surface to reach out to others, we put in well over a forty hour work weeks fifty-two weeks a year. We write because we love it, and while getting paid is ideal, it’s not the end-all of our career.
This is what I remind myself, so the next time someone asks, “So what do you do for a living?” I can straighten my shoulders with pride and grace to claim, “I’m a writer.” Now, it’s your turn.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.
If you want to hunt her down, she can be found lurking around the following cyber locations:
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.com/e/B006HU3HJI