- not producing fast enough
- not selling what we do produce
- not being interesting
- wasting our time instead of doing something productive
It’s all basically the same thing with variations on emphasis.
Is it an American problem? This idea that if I don’t sell it, it’s worthless? Is art for art’s sake so bad? Video gamers don’t take this kind of abuse. We hear about the guy who spends 6 hours a night playing Halo or whatever, and we laugh and nod. “Yeah, I been there.” Of course, the gamer who does this for years gets pity and eventually divorced.
(For the record, I have no problem with gamers. Hello? Farmville?)
Dave Ramsey says if you spend more than you make on an activity, it’s a hobby (that’s a paraphrase). Writers always spend more than they make, in time, if not in currency. It takes time to write, time all by yourself, away from everyone and everything. It is a solitary practice. I suppose some writing teams exist, but I doubt many of them are two people hunched over a keyboard discussing everything. Talk about time suck.
I appreciate that people want to get published, get famous, get rich, or any combination of the three by writing. Those were never my goals, but they’re not bad goals. They’re very understandable considering how much a writer gives up by pursuing the craft. It’s reasonable to expect compensation.
I don’t have a point other than every writer (and gamer) needs to consider what they expect in return for their investment. If you want the fame and the wealth, you must treat the journey like a job. Work your guts out. Train like an Olympian. Give up time with your family. Even if you do this, you may not make it. How many athletes don’t get the gold?
If you just love writing, and the fame, fortune and whatnot isn’t your driving force, then writing for you is a hobby. It may be an all-consuming hobby, but hobby it is. Doesn’t mean you can’t get published. Just means if you do, you’ll make most of the rest of the world incredibly jealous. That can be rewarding in and of itself.
Trying to have it both ways makes writing a jobby (if you use that word like I use that word, you understand my full meaning). You’re half in, half out. It’s a very uncomfortable place to be.
Former therapist that I am, I advise all writers to examine their motives. Figure out why you write, and that should determine your path: job or hobby. Once you’ve figured it out, proclaim it boldly and without embarrassment.
I mean, you don’t see many apologetic gamers, do you? At least you produce something tangible. I just collect graphics of funny trees.