I would say I’m neither. At parties for instance we define ourselves by what we do for a living. If somebody asks me ‘What do you do?’, I would reply that I’m a medical secretary and that I write books for a hobby. People say they are plumbers, electricians, computer programmers, engineers, hairdressers, or personal trainers for example, because the money earned from these jobs pay all the bills.
How can I define myself as a writer if all I’ve earned since January is £296.92? How can anybody live on that?
I like to write, and would happily stop being a medical secretary if I sold more books. However, as far as I can tell, my books are being pirated by illegal websites (I receive notifications from Google most days with a link to another of my ‘free’ books) and there’s not much I can do about it without parting with large amounts of cash that I do not have. Sales are falling from 1142 in 2015 to only 642 last year, and I’m seriously considering having 4 months off from writing and blogging to enjoy the summer. I think I’ve ‘peaked’!
It seems to me that the whole world has jumped on the author bandwagon. Every day Amazon adds hundreds of thousands more books to its sites. We bloggers are falling over each other as we all try to get our blogs and books out in front. We’re all riding that train where we have to think up blogs to keep our name out there, so all the same tired author advice gets blogged and re-blogged ad nauseum day after day. But hey, in reality, who cares whether our names are out there or not?
It’s got to the point where everybody is super- busy writing and blogging, desperate to be heard above the white noise, and terrified to leave a blog unattended for even a day. But in reality, does anybody actually read our well-thought-out blogs the whole way through or just tick the ‘like’ box at the end? This whole author/writer situation is becoming farcical because there are just too many fish in the sea, so to speak. No, I’m not depressed about it, just a bit disillusioned I suppose.
I’m a realist who jumped on this out-of-control train late in life, well after the self-publishing explosion where even the most slushiest book at the bottom of an agent’s pile was able to be published and promoted. I should have been doing all this when I was in my twenties, but I didn’t have a lot of life experiences to write about then!
I think the best thing we aspiring authors can do is to carry on with the day job, because that earns us the money to pay for editors or book covers etc. Unless we can afford to give up the aforementioned day job, then I cannot see how anybody can call themselves either a writer or an author. We write for a hobby and for the pleasure of seeing our words in print. Everybody can do this if they try and it seems like everybody does, but all this doesn’t make me a writer. It makes me a medical secretary who writes novels for a hobby. Time passes quickly when I write and slowly when I type clinic letters, so it’s obvious which one I prefer doing, but typing clinic letters is where the money is at the moment.
Yeah, expect long gaps from me during the summer, starting from 22nd June when I’ll be over at the Isle of Wight festival or sitting on the decking of my holiday home. There’s more to life than sitting at a computer trying to shriek with one vocal cord above a discordant symphony of white noise.
There’s too much romanticism attached to being a writer. The reality is hard graft and endless rejections by agents who have read it all before. Only a lucky few can break through the barrier and become published by one of the big five.
What do you think? Do you define yourself as a writer even though you earn your living doing something else?