Wednesday, October 7, 2020

IWSG: What's a "Working Writer"?

 


 It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means IWSG posting! 

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the October 7 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett, Beth Camp, Beverly Stowe McClure, and Gwen Gardner!

Every month there is an OPTIONAL question. This month's question:

When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like?

 

Well, that's a fine question to ask as I struggle to keep myself convinced I'm a writer at all! Seriously, though, I think it's very relevant, and I have multiple answers.

On one level, I think of a "working writer" as someone who is  writing full-time, maybe making a living at it. That's a pretty narrow selection of people, and I imagine someone who approaches the work like a regular job, with the discipline to sit down and write at set times and to work on writer-stuff for a full work day. 

But I have another take on it I like better. In that one, many more of us are "working writers," because it looks like this: someone who writes or works at writer-business pretty regularly. Maybe not every day. Maybe it's only on Saturday nights, but it's something they prioritize and do routinely. In other words: anyone who is working at being a writer.

By that definition, of course, I'm a working writer, which is a better description (or one I like better) than "aspiring writer" (a term I really dislike; "aspiring" suggests to me someone who is thinking about it and wishing they were a writer, in which case... nope) or a "hobbyist." The latter comes closer to describing those of us who don't rely on our writing income, but it doesn't feel right, either. For me, watercolor is a hobby--I do it purely for my own pleasure, and would certainly never expect anyone to pay for the results. Writing is something more.

Maybe I'll put it this way: I pay taxes on my writing earnings not as a "hobby", but as a business. If the IRS says I'm a working writer, good enough for me! (For the record, the distinction does have to do with making money. I think you have to turn a profit 3 years out of 5 or some such. I've yet to lose money two years in a row, so I'm still paying self-employment taxes).

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Okay, that was fun. So what about my writing? 

Well, I've been traveling again, and I'm still struggling with the focus issues that seem to come with grief and loss, so the writing hasn't been impressive. But aside from nights in the backcountry (backpacking) and a couple of reallllly long driving days, I've been working on Death By Donut every day. Maybe I just do edits on a couple of paragraphs, but I do something, and I'm working my way through it. 

Apropos of that... I'm hoping to have an edited draft by the end of the month, and will be looking for beta readers. If you are willing to help out, let me know. The book is the 5th in then Pismawallops PTA cozy mystery series, and I'd love to have at least one beta who hasn't read the other books, so I can find out if it works for new readers.

No short stories or submissions this month. But I've put over 5000 miles on the new car since the start of September, so maybe that's no surprise?

Here I am, working on the edits in camp at Great Basin NP:




38 comments:

  1. Yes, it's very hard to focus enough to write when you're going through the grieving process. I couldn't even read for awhile. I admire that you still are traveling and trying to write. Don't forget I'm here for you if you ever need to talk.

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    1. Thank you, Natalie. I’m not sure that the travel is so laudable—between the smoke and the memories, staying home just wasn’t an option. The writing... that has taken some force of will, but it’s a healing activity, too.

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  2. I like your take on it. :)

    Death By Donut...that's a great title!

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    1. I'm not sure how many more great "Death By..." titles I can come up with, but since the first, the titles have been the inspiration for the mysteries :)

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  3. Focus is terrible when you've got other things plaguing your life. I hope you get your edited draft done!

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  4. A working writer is a writer who turns tricks on the corner to make ends meet. Cause they sure can't do it from their writing income.

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    1. LOL! Notice that I very clearly did NOT indicate that a "working writer" is making a living at it. But I was also thinking about the "working mother" version of the phrase, which is to say, someone who earns a living at something else while also laboring hard at being a mother/writer.

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  5. I agree with you that people who work at being a writer could be considered working writers.

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  6. After losing my father last year, the only thing that kept me sane was finishing the book we'd discussed together. Hang in there.

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    1. Hanging on and making progress. Loss seeps into every aspect of one's life.

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  7. If you think about writing as including all the activities that aren't actual writing, then a lot of us are working writers.

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    1. I think that being a working writer absolutely means spending time on those things! They are part of the job. In fact, I’d say that doing the non-writing things we often don’t enjoy so much (marketing, anyone?) is part of what defines a “real” writer—someone who takes the job seriously in all its aspects.

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  8. You are definitely a working writer.
    And, I'm sorry to hear your struggling with grief and loss.
    I'm happy to help with reading.

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    1. Thank you. I will put you on the list and contact you when I have the draft ready.

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  9. Every time I think of you and the grief and loss you are experiencing, my heart hurts, Rebecca. I admire you so much for the way you are engaging in life. You are amazing. It's been my experience that time spent in nature is healing. It is a place that can touch you with joy, even when the world is dark and painful. I've never been a beta reader, and I haven't read any of your PTA cozy mystery series, so if you can use someone really green, I would be happy to help you. Take care. You give me hope!

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    1. Thank you for the kind thoughts and words. I would love to have you read the draft, and have a set of guidelines to help new beta readers know what to look for (which I also found helpful in learning to edit my own work).

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  10. The most fun I had writing was at a picnic table at a campsite. So open and fresh. I need a vacation!

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    1. I could have used a little warmer fingers at that campsite, but I loved that I was sitting in camp and working on my novel!

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  11. I met someone up the top of the IWSG list who lost her husband in April. She’s taken a different path from you, but the rest of her words are the same.
    Working mother/writer, such a good analogy.
    Editing in camp is surely beyond the call of duty, although for me that would be holiday, for you, a way of life. Come to think of it I’ve written flash and blog posts on holiday. But in cottages! And one on a train..
    Enjoying your remaining Maine..

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    1. D’oh... should be ‘Enjoy’ in the last line!

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    2. I figured that out :) Working in camp in the dark felt right :) Though it was easier on days when I could get it done in daylight.

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  12. Congrats on getting the new book to this stage! And I like your definition of a working writer :-)

    Ronel visiting on IWSG day Revamp Your Backlist

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    1. I've been making good progress this week, under the influence of peer pressure--others are working, so I'm working. Though not as consistently as some :D Solitaire does figure into the overall scheme of things.

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  13. The IRS doesn't think of my royalties as hobby either.
    That is a lot of miles you've traveled!

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  14. I also had issues writing while I was grieving. My advice is to not push it. Do what you can and don't beat yourself up if you don't accomplish what you expected to. I hope travel treats you well!

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    1. I'm trying to keep expectations low, but I admit I feel better when I'm working, which helps me keep going. Travel has been good so far!

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  15. Thank you for pulling the IRS into the debate over what makes a 'working' writer. And I applaud your traveling spirit. Sign me up as a beta (if you wish), for I've not read any of your stories yet and love your genre. You look all bundled up at Great Basin NP, taking joy in writing. May the coming month be good to you.

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    1. Adding you to my list! Thanks :) Writing outside in the dark and cold works until my fingers get cold, which doesn't take long!

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  16. Oops. Typo in my website which should be https://bethandwriting.blogspot.com or you can reach me re beta at bluebethley @ yahoo.com

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  17. I like your definition of a working writer. You nailed it, as far as I'm concerned. Grief & loss takes so much out of a person. Amazing that you're hanging in there and writing. Love your title.

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    1. Thanks. Writing seems to help keep me sane. There have been times when I wished I had a job I had to go do, and treating writing that way helps give purpose to my days.

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  18. I loved your explanation of hobbyist, it is spot on. Writers are serious, so hobbyist doesn't really fit.

    Hang in there and stay safe!

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    1. Exactly! I'm not saying you can't work very hard at a hobby and get good at it (I once was able to treat music that way), but you probably still don't expect people to pay for it (I never got THAT good at music :D)

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  19. Love it that you're getting out and having adventures. And, yes, I'd love to hear more about them, especially when you had to do international travel during Covid! Also, you are definitely a working writer!!!

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