Reality of Being a Writer where I address the myth that writers make a ton of money and live in mansions and travel to exotic places and... well, you get the idea. But the reality is that I have yet to meet more than 2 or 3 writers who can afford this kind of lifestyle.
Another reality is that being a writer and being an Writer (note: the title case), especially one that is published, are two very different animals.
But I wrote a book? I'm a writer! I used to think that there was no difference between claimed the title of "Writer" or "Author" when you are writing and actually having a book published. I hated the distinction of "Pre-Pubbed" or "Aspiring" and frankly thought that those pegging me with the titles could just go away. Permanently. However, I was unpublished, at the time. Now, when I look at it I find that the distinction isn't really between writing and being published. The distinction is really between writing sporadically with hope for publication and actively working toward a goal of publication... again, again, and again. And, the reality is that once you are published this widening distance doesn't diminish, especially in light of the tightening traditional markets and the boom of the Indie Pubbing trend.
I've published three books and written twice as many. I actively seek publication from the traditional publishers and I actively publish as an Indie Pubber. The IRS has qualifications for claiming it on your taxes. They want to be sure that you are actively pursuing your work. So, why shouldn't we demand the same from ourselves. I didn't start claiming taxes on my writing until I published OBSIDIAN and THREE TRUTHS. I believe the IRS says that you should go no more than three years without an income from your pursuit. (it may be 5 years. I'm trying not to focus on taxes at the moment.) They will also allow you to continue if you can prove that this is a day to day endeavor. You've done the professional thing and kept records and logs and rejection letters (yes, those count since they prove dedication to publishing). But the thing is that I went over 12 years without a sale. 12 years. That's a long time, even when it's not dog years.
I know that there are a few people who may not like what I'm saying. It really comes down to intention. Even before publication there is a vast horizon filled with people who are a differing stages of their writing career and dedication. The reality is that I've been around this profession for 18 years and I've seen just as many who are actively working toward publication as I've seen those who write because they like the idea of being a writer.
I'll give you another example that isn't writing related, but it does speak to what I'm trying to say. A few years back I was approached about being involved with the local Ghost Hunting group, Maine Ghost Hunters. I really wanted to do this, but I had reservations about whether I could give it a full measure of commitment. After all, I was already working a full time job, writing and had a child that was soon to be graduating. I joined because I wanted to be a part of it, but I also joined knowing that if the time came and I was unable to give it all I had then I needed to step away. I was heartbroken when that time came, but I needed to step away. I couldn't keep up the pace or the commitment and it wasn't fair to those around me. I still miss it, but that's reality.
There are some who will whole-heartedly disagree with me. I wouldn't have liked my stand any better just 10 years ago. But I can also see it from the perspective I'm at currently. I'm not a NYT author. I'm not a even a top 100 writer. But I am a "Writer" actively pursuing my writing.
In the end, you can join every group out there. You can go to every conference and workshop and even write a book, but just how committed to the goal of being a "Writer" are you?
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