I've been thinking again. Actually, I've been thinking for a while now. Even before I got the email from a friend telling me about a funny conversation they had with their spouse and how the spouse thought what I'm doing over here is a hobby. They defended me, of course, which was nice, but the whole relay set me thinking again.
Is this writing thing a job or is it a hobby?
On the one hand, I don't work normal hours. And I don't just mean I don't work 8-5 with an hour for lunch. I mean I don't work 40 hours a week. Hell, some weeks, I don't work 20 hours. I also don't work Monday thru Friday. I work whatever days Sunday thru Saturday that I need to work. When I'm deep in the working, that might mean I work 7 days straight and anywhere from a couple hours to five or six hours in one day. Hell, I pulled a 14 hour work day that one time when I was rushing to put together a very specific submission of a time-sensitive nature. When I'm not deep in, though, I could go days without opening a manuscript to work on.
No one pays me. No one provides for my health insurance. No one gives me benefits or vacation days or sick days. I don't have a retirement plan. I don't have co-workers. My office is a desk set up in the corner of the library. My computer is used both for frittering away time and doing productive things. (Well, that's kind of like a real job, I guess. LOL) I don't wear a business suit or skirts or even shoes. (Or even a bra, if you get right down to it.)
On the other hand, hobbies are supposed to be ways for a person to relax. They're supposed to be fun pursuits to take your mind off the ol' day job. Some people turn their hobbies into money-making enterprises - they sell quilts or knickknacks, they enter contests where they might win prizes, etc. - but they don't expect to ever live off the money they make. And when they do, the hobby turns into a job.
This isn't relaxing. It isn't a fun pursuit. Oh, sure, I love writing. But it's also a stress-inducing pursuit that I need a hobby to get away from sometimes (like fishing). And, sure, sometimes I can drain away stress by writing. Give me a good action scene where I get to kill people and that can be super cathartic. But for the most part, no relaxation in the writing biz.
I am writer, publisher, editor-in-chief, marketing, art department, mailroom, public relations, IT, human resources, etc. I don't know of a single hobby where one person takes on all of that - not and still pursues it as a hobby.
I have a feeling sometimes that I'm not very good at those jobs, but that doesn't necessarily turn it into a hobby. It just means I'm not the best businessman in the world. Good thing I'm not looking for investors. Marcus Lemonis would kick my ass. And rightfully so.
Still, as I sit here, not writing and not really accomplishing the business goals I set for myself when I started this self-publishing endeavor, the thinking goes 'what if this really is a hobby and I'm just fooling myself?' and 'what if that person was right after all?' and then I begin to wonder why I'm putting myself through this for a freakin' hobby. When a hobby begins to become more trouble than it's worth, I stop doing it. As my big tub of crocheting materials can easily attest to.
So, I guess that means this isn't a hobby after all. Lord knows, in terms of actual finances, this is way more trouble than it's been worth. And I haven't quit yet. Slowed down a little, maybe. Went fishing instead of working, when the idea of spending more time on something that isn't paying off gets to be too much, perhaps. :shrug: In terms of actually having my books available for other people to read, this has been worth more than I can say.
Who knows if this is a job or a hobby. I guess that's only for me to say... for each of us to say about our own situations in our own ways. And I guess I need to stop whining about it all and get back to work.