I have read a number of articles & blog posts about writing not being considered to be an actual job. Last week during dinner with a friend, she made the comment that I was semi-retired (not fully retired as I do some paid work at a University). I was a little taken-aback but let it slide. After all I wanted to check the definition of “retirement” to ensure that I wouldn’t be speaking out of turn if I objected to the label. My assumption about the meaning of “retirement” was confirmed, with all definitions implying that it means “leaving the work force”. I was left feeling more than a little annoyed.
I have not left the work force! As a writer I expect that I never will (assuming that my capacity to write remains). My part time/casual work is to get some extra money in the door, and is not the only work I do. I object to the assumption that I’m doing nothing and am available whenever anyone wants a chat, someone to visit, someone to go out with. I’m very busy!
Here are my reasons for believing, no, make that knowing, that writing is a full time job, and is my career:
- I work everyday. And I mean every day – even if it’s only for an hour or two.
- My standard work day is about 6 hours long. When you consider that those working in office jobs spend a significant amount of time lunching, having tea/coffee breaks, chatting with colleagues, attending boring non-relevant meetings, I think that makes us even.
- I get paid. And I get paid regularly. It may not be much, but I get a cheque every three months from the distributer of my children’s book, a monthly payment from the bookstore where my book is stocked, and a payment from Amazon/Kindle at the end of every month.
- I’m published. You can google me/my titles.
- I’m considered to be an author/emerging writer (by industry definition).
- I participate in professional development courses related to my business.
- I belong to a writer’s group and various formal writing and publishing organisations and groups.
- I am listed as a writer/author/publisher on my tax return, legal documents and census details.
- I have a business plan (really I do), business card, business email, business website, an accounts system, an Australian Business registration number, and an EIN (US tax number).
I am in business. Writing is my job, my career and my passion.
I know that I sound like a bit of a stroppy cow, and in reality those who believe that I do nothing all day is limited to that particular friend, some distant acquaintences and my mother. I really believe that it’s important that we value work in any and all of the arts industries. Being a writer is more than a job, it’s a career and a way of life.
Perhaps some people are jealous that I (we) have taken the risk and are trying to make a living doing something we love.