A dissenting opinion (and some news!)

January 13th, 2009 • Kate

kt literary client Matthew Cody, mentioned yesterday in my post about Catherine Cheek’s thoughts on managing work, had his own thoughts on balancing a writing life with “the very likely day-job.” Matt took offense (but in a very friendly sort of way) with Catherine’s statement:

I think it’s helpful to think of writing as a hobby instead of a career. For most of us, that’s all it will ever be. Hobby might seem derivative, but it shouldn’t be. Most people care more about their hobbies than their “real jobs”. Just because it’s a hobby doesn’t mean you can’t excel at it or that it’s not meaningful.

Matt replied, in a post cunningly titled “In which the author of this blog tries to start a blog war with another very nice author out of a desperate need for attention and/or nothing better to do before bed”:

I certainly agree that writers must come up with a financial safety net, whether that is a day-job with benefits or employed spouse. But I’ve known several aspiring authorly friends over the years whose writing careers ended not with a bang or whimper, but with the words “I’m more of a hobby writer now.”
It takes such devotion, such a ridiculous faith-in-one’s own worth to be a writer that I think it needs to always be at the front of your ambition. A writer needs to cover the basic hierarchy of needs, and that usually comes in the form of a day job, but that is only to support the writing.

So… whose side are you on? Or new advice to share?
And in other, exciting news, I’m pleased as punch to announce a new addition to the kt literary stable. Please welcome Stephanie Perkins, and her blog Natural/Artificial.

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed Under: News, Slushpile

Tags: , , ,


15 Responses to “A dissenting opinion (and some news!)”

  1. Joe Iriarte Says:

    I'm inclined to agree with Matt. The thing with hobbies is you give yourself permission not to engage in them when you're too busy or whatever. I've been in at least a dozen community theatre productions; I guess you could call that a hobby. But it's been two or three years since I've been in a show (other than a cameo in a high school production of Grease last year), and I'm not annoyed at myself for that. I do it when it works out, and don't give it much of a second thought when it doesn't. That was my approach for writing for many years, and I got very little accomplished. I became a lot more productive–and I learned more, and even found myself becoming more creative–when I treated writing as a job. Just a job that didn't pay is all. But the potential is there for the future, and as for the present, the commitment is there now.

  2. Carrie Harris Says:

    Yeah, I admit that as much as I loved Kater's post, I have never thought of writing as a hobby. I call it my career. Jobs may come and go, but a career is something you do for a lifetime. And you can have both a career and a job if that's what's necessary to keep bread on the table and electricity on the computer.
    Because really, all I need is my family, bread, and a computer, and I'll be happy. Oh, and a house. Because it's really cold here.
    New shoes are nice but not absolutely necessary.

  3. Kathleen Peacock Says:

    Count me in Matt's camp because I think of it as a second job.
    A second job takes priority over always having the dishes or laundry done and means I can't spend as much time with friends or go out on quite as many date nights with my boyfriend – things I wouldn't necessarily put off or forgo for the sake of a hobby.
    So it's a job. Not the main job and not the job that keeps a roof over my head and Pepsi in the fridge, but a job nonetheless.

  4. Julia Says:

    I am in Matt's camp. I came late to the party on your last post – but liked jeanoram's reference to writing as a "profession." And, I agree with Carrie Harris (above) – it's a career. I just can't think of writing as a hobby.

  5. Julia Says:

    Duh… Welcome kt literary sister, Stephanie! Yay!

  6. lotusloquax Says:

    I think it should be hobby until you can make a significant living at it.
    As for Stephanie, I've got to say a big fat yippee! I've been following her blog for a while, and she's hilarious. I'm looking forward to reading the books she will write.

  7. jeanoram Says:

    I understand what Catherine means about people and their hobbies. People with hobbies will dedicate hours and endless paychecks to their hobby (kind of like dedicated writers). They will travel to far away conferences, join online groups, read up on their hobby. On and on. If they are truly passionate about their hobby, they become experts on it. That is not to say they have the skill or what it takes to make money at it. Yet, they are happy not making money with their hobby. Many writers that you find participating online (and particularly on agent blogs) want to make money at their writing. They want to make it their day job. They are past the hobby stage.
    So while I can see what she means equating writers with dedicated hobbists, I have to say I am NOT a hobby writer. If anyone told me I have a nice hobby in my writing, I would do my best to squelch the urge to slap them. 🙂
    On the other hand, I think many aspiring writers could learn a lot from hobbiests.

  8. how 'bout a mag Says:

    Count me in Catherine's camp. People seem to perceive this negative connotation to the term 'hobby'… but it seems silly to me, for my own situation if nothing else, to call it otherwise until it becomes the 'day job'. Or 'second job' at least; that is to say, earning money. Besideswhich, I don't define myself as a writer first and [job] second; and I don't exist, as Matt seems to imply, solely for the writing. I have other passions aside from writing: photography, sewing, family. So I don't have a job "just to support the writing". And I think that people who define themselves solely by their writing might need a little more definition in their lives. No offense to anyone who does, of course.

  9. how 'bout a mag Says:

    Count me in Catherine's camp. People seem to perceive this negative connotation to the term 'hobby'… but it seems silly to me, for my own situation if nothing else, to call it otherwise until it becomes the 'day job'. Or 'second job' at least; that is to say, earning money. Besideswhich, I don't define myself as a writer first and [job] second; and I don't exist, as Matt seems to imply, solely for the writing. I have other passions aside from writing: photography, sewing, family. So I don't have a job "just to support the writing". And I think that people who define themselves solely by their writing might need a little more definition in their lives. No offense to anyone who does, of course.

  10. how 'bout a mag Says:

    Count me in Catherine's camp. People seem to perceive this negative connotation to the term 'hobby'… but it seems silly to me, for my own situation if nothing else, to call it otherwise until it becomes the 'day job'. Or 'second job' at least; that is to say, earning money. Besideswhich, I don't define myself as a writer first and [job] second; and I don't exist, as Matt seems to imply, solely for the writing. I have other passions aside from writing: photography, sewing, family. So I don't have a job "just to support the writing". And I think that people who define themselves solely by their writing might need a little more definition in their lives. No offense to anyone who does, of course.

  11. how 'bout a mag Says:

    Count me in Catherine's camp. People seem to perceive this negative connotation to the term 'hobby'… but it seems silly to me, for my own situation if nothing else, to call it otherwise until it becomes the 'day job'. Or 'second job' at least; that is to say, earning money. Besideswhich, I don't define myself as a writer first and [job] second; and I don't exist, as Matt seems to imply, solely for the writing. I have other passions aside from writing: photography, sewing, family. So I don't have a job "just to support the writing". And I think that people who define themselves solely by their writing might need a little more definition in their lives. No offense to anyone who does, of course.

  12. how 'bout a mag Says:

    Count me in Catherine's camp. People seem to perceive this negative connotation to the term 'hobby'… but it seems silly to me, for my own situation if nothing else, to call it otherwise until it becomes the 'day job'. Or 'second job' at least; that is to say, earning money. Besideswhich, I don't define myself as a writer first and [job] second; and I don't exist, as Matt seems to imply, solely for the writing. I have other passions aside from writing: photography, sewing, family. So I don't have a job "just to support the writing". And I think that people who define themselves solely by their writing might need a little more definition in their lives. No offense to anyone who does, of course.

  13. Joe Iriarte Says:

    People who say "no offense" are generally nimrods. No offense. 😉

  14. Julia Says:

    I love the word "nimrod" from my Bugs Bunny-watching days (which are not over by any stretch of the imagination!)
    I had to look it up to find out its origin (I'm word-geeky that way) and I was kind of surprised to see that first it was the name of a Biblical king who is purported to have been a great hunter and also responsible for building the Tower of Babel. Anyway – the way it is currently used (i.e. Elmer Fudd-ish) actually didn't start until Bugs referred to Elmer as "the poor little Nimrod" – referencing the "hunter" part. But what is left is the bumbling, inept meaning from the cartoons. I find that really interesting.

  15. Stephanie Perkins Says:

    Whee!! Thank you for the welcome. (And I'm so happy to be your new sis, Julia!)