Monday, November 21, 2016

A Job or a Hobby?

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.

'Nuff said.


  1. Writing hasn't been a hobby for me for a very long time. I sort of miss those days. Now I have a "cottage industry" with deadlines and stress and business things that I suck out which is why I never went into marketing. But I can't imagine doing anything else. I have too many stories to tell. Do I need the income? Yes. Am I making a bundle? Oh hell NO!!! Some months I barely buy groceries. But there have been times when I could afford to do things for my family. It's a crap shoot. We're entrepreneurs, you and I, and every other writer who pays editors and cover designers and formatters (or do it ourselves), who plan and implement marketing strategies, who put a product out there for the general public.

    Tell your friend's husband to stuff it. Let's see him do this job--little positive feedback, criticism more often than not, working for pennies... It's a dirty job but someone has to do it. And I'm not really feeling as down/negative as this sounds. I'm just being a realist today. And avoiding new words. LOL

    1. Oh, I'm pretty sure they already told their spouse to stuff it. LOL. And since I've never met this spouse person, I didn't really let their words effect me - other than to make me think again.

      You are definitely not in this for the hobby. You bust your ass every week for your business. Me? Not so much, but I'm getting there.