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Susan Breen
06-25-2008, 06:27 AM
We were talking in class today about the most annoying thing that people say, and we agreed that it's when people say, "How nice that you have such an interesting hobby!" Second was, "I'd write if I had more time." But we also agreed that it's weird that we all had people we love who seem compelled to undercut us. Anyone else have that?

KTC
06-25-2008, 06:36 AM
I was discouraged at a very young age... continuously.

Bubastes
06-25-2008, 06:42 AM
Yes. I find some comfort that the comments (and annoyance) seem to be universal!

Danger Jane
06-25-2008, 07:04 AM
The worst comment I ever had about writing was from a friend's bitchy, smartass older sister, who told me, quote, "You'll never get published."

Which, well, in my head I replied with a seventh-grade FUCK OFF, MANDY. In real life I timidly blustered about whatever I knew about the publishing industry and how it actually is possible to be published.

But really I don't think anyone's given me crap about writing. I guess I'm lucky. Mostly, though, I think people just figure I'm so off-beat, they wouldn't be surprised at me doing anything.

MoonWriter
06-25-2008, 07:19 AM
I've talked ad nauseam about the book I've been working on for five years to my five sisters, my brother, and my friends. Not one has had anything bad to say - to my face. :)

nevada
06-25-2008, 07:20 AM
people i know support my writing. Even my mother, who supports nothing else. She's told all her friends how great a writer I am and makes them read whatever story she's got lying around. Gee thanks mom. Where was that support when I was growing up?

All bitterness aside, I really really get annoyed with the idiots who say "I always wanted to write a book, maybe this summer i'll take a month off. I have this great idea."

Are we allowed to slap them? That would make it easier to have to listen to them if we knew we could bitch slap them when they're done mouthing off.

Jersey Chick
06-25-2008, 07:22 AM
I have to admit, no one's ever called my writing a "hobby" (at least not to my face - hmm... maybe they just know better ;)) Just the opposite, really. My family's always been "when you get published, not if" and, until I sold my first book, most of my friends didn't know I was even trying to get published - since I don't usually talk about it, even now.

And yes, I think we should be allowed to slap anyone who says anything remotely similar to they'll write a book when they find time. Um... is their day any shorter than mine? I thought they all had 24 hours in them?

Mumut
06-25-2008, 07:36 AM
My family and friends have been very supportive of my writing but I do detect the basic amazement when they say, 'My dad's written a book and it's really good!' as though they didn't think that was possible.

It's at book signings people can say things that they really should be shot for. You know the sort of things - 'I don't need an editor for MY work', and comments that add up to, 'well, if you can get published I should find no difficulty.' Then there are the people who need to be told (but I don't have the guts). One person had written 200,000 words of their life history to the age of 21, and was going to send it to all major publishers to let them fight over it!

Yes, sometimes getting out there to market your work is difficult.

Kalyke
06-25-2008, 08:20 AM
Well, most people who do interesting things started as hobbiests. All that means is that you don't get paid, or rarely do. It is like Amature. I'd ignore it.

tehuti88
06-25-2008, 05:26 PM
All the time. My family is of the mind that if I'm not making money off it (I'm not seeking publication, just trying to entertain people), then it's not important. They've said as much, themselves. They don't go making a point of belittling me all the time, but that alone is bad enough, especially considering that they all have hobbies (woodcarving, beading, etc.) that the people around here are actually willing to pay for. Nobody in this area seems to care much for reading. :(

And for some weird reason they used to keep thinking I wrote "children's books." Wha--?? When I was a child I wrote children's stories, because, you know, I was a child, but if they knew what stuff I write about now...!

Back to the subject of the post, what irks me is how very many people I come across online, especially on art-related sites, spend all their time creating artwork of the grand books and book series they're "going to write." They go on at length about all the plot details and characters and whatnot but when it comes down to it...they never write a word. Okay. MAYBE one chapter, out of sequence. But the rest of the time, they're too busy creating art for the "book to come" or just talking about it. I'm all for enthusiasm, but if you're never going to write the stupid thing, just admit it and stop calling yourself a writer. You have to actually write something to be a writer.

What's even more infuriating is that these people are usually mega-popular for their art and there are tons of people hanging on every word which they never end up writing...while the people who actually do write don't get that much notice. I'm starting to think the very reason these people are so popular is BECAUSE they don't deliver the goods, thus their fans (who are there for the art, not the writing) won't have to spend a lot of time reading!

But I'm cynical that way. :P

willietheshakes
06-25-2008, 05:32 PM
I was discouraged at a very young age... continuously.

Me too.

I'm hoping it stops soon.

veinglory
06-25-2008, 05:43 PM
I think it is a matter of perspective. I do consider writing my hobby. People are always giving me grief about this.

ACEnders
06-25-2008, 05:51 PM
I have heard the "I would write if I had more time" before. No one's said the "hobby" thing to me though. For the most part, when people find out, they're excited.

The only person who kind of undercut me was my mother-in-law. I love her to death, and I'm not sure it was intentional, but it was a little bit of a blow. My husband was telling his parents that I'd finished my first novel. He's so proud of me, it's funny! Anyway, my father-in-law asks me about it and shows interest and tells me he thinks that's really admirable. He even tells me that he tried to write a novel once. Then, my mother-in-law who hasn't said anything the whole time says,

"You know who can write really well? Sarah. She is such a great writer."

Sarah is my sister-in-law. Without going into details, she's trouble and hurts and angers everyone else in an effort to do whatever's best for her. She's the most selfish, obnoxious, fake person I know.

Pissed me off. Even my husband apologized to me later for his mother's lack of interest or support.

*shrugs* Whatever. I have enough support without her.

willietheshakes
06-25-2008, 05:51 PM
I think it is a matter of perspective. I do consider writing my hobby. people are always giving me greif about this.

I suspect you're right.

Writing has NEVER been a hobby for me. I might fuck around with day jobs and relationships and passing fancies, but writing has always been the still point around which my life revolves. I joke that I write because I'm "ill-suited for real work", but the truth is, I write because it's who I am. Plain and simple. I don't always give it the primacy that I should, and it may frustrate me and drive me crazy some days, but writing is probably the only place in my life that I feel complete.

That aint a hobby. A psychosis, maybe, but not a hobby.

Lyra Jean
06-25-2008, 06:03 PM
I haven't been able to write a whole lot at the moment so I don't mention it to people. I'm not a prolific person.

When I got my short story published ages ago someone at work asked how much it made ($5). There reply, "That won't pay the bills." I looked them straight in the eye and said, "That's why I'm still here."

Next time I'm not going to say cause I don't need to deal with dumb comments like that.

Phaeal
06-25-2008, 06:24 PM
Why can't writing be a hobby? I don't know. A lot of writers seem to think they have to get published or else their time was wasted. Is this a natural consequence of the depth of communication that writing embodies, the time it takes a reader to appreciate it? Other arts, like painting or singing or dancing, can be immediately experienced (at least on a superficial level) -- reading, even on a superficial level, requires a more substantial commitment.

With the proliferation of fiction and poetry sites on the web, including fan sites, including blogging, I think more people ARE growing content with writing as amateurs -- they can put their work out to the world and get readers and responses without paid publication. Watch this trend.

Still, there are those of us for whom only bound books in real bookstores will do. This is the validation we must have. Is it the same for other artists? Will they never rest until their paintings are in galleries, their feet on the stage of the Met? Is the drive for official recognition as important for them?

Another thing: Most people CAN write -- they know how to put words down on paper, learned it in school, have no great awe for the act. The graphic and plastic arts, music and dance, are more specialties, and most people find talent in them impressive. They could NEVER draw or sing or dance like that! But if they only had the TIME, they could turn out publishable work.

This is the truly annoying thing, that the average Joe doesn't appreciate the craft writing requires. But if you think about it, the average Joe also doesn't appreciate the craft of painting, is as happy with a black velvet bull fighter as with a Rembrandt -- or happier. And, you know what? You probably don't appreciate the intricacies of the plumbing or masonry or electrical work that Joe does. Or the lawyering or the doctoring or the nuclear sciencing.

Comes down to: We should all write like amateurs, lovers of the art. If we can't do this, if the Grail of publication is all that will make us happy, then are we really writers?

Does that reverse the popular judgment: You're not a real writer unless you're published? Good. It's supposed to.

BarbaraKE
06-25-2008, 06:40 PM
All bitterness aside, I really really get annoyed with the idiots who say "I always wanted to write a book, maybe this summer i'll take a month off. I have this great idea."

Yeah, I heard this just this past weekend. Ugh.

Claudia Gray
06-25-2008, 06:50 PM
To be fair, there are people who write as a hobby, and some of the people who assume this about others may not mean to be demeaning; they may simply know other hobby writers and draw the wrong conclusion.

Quossum
06-25-2008, 06:52 PM
People give the "if I only had time" statement to whatever it is you say you do that they don't really want to do but want to sound like they're cool and with it. frex:

"I train dogs."
"Oh, I'd train mine if I had time."
"I also write a lot."
"I would too, if I had time."
"And make quilts."
"Oh, if only I had the time!"
"I read fifty books this summer."
"I'd do that if my life was as boring as yours, but hey, *I'm* a busy person!"

Or at least, sometimes I get that sort of dismissiveness from them, whereas with some I do get a sort of wistful longing. When I suggest not watching TV in order to have more time, though, the people usually change their minds.

Mostly, I've been surrounded by people who have encouraged me, including my sister, who declared the (terrible) book I wrote in college as "the best book I've ever read in my life!" Hey, with betas like that, I can deal with a few rejection slips! :D

As far as dismissive words about it being a hobby...so what? It is. At least for most of us. It's a hobby that requires particular talent and brings incredible pleasure, and it is interesting, so I wouldn't find that statement annoying at all, unless it was said in one of those really patronizing tones. Then I would just assume it was jealousy.

--Q

Toothpaste
06-25-2008, 06:54 PM
Phael - I don't think anyone here is saying writing can't be a hobby. But for people for whom it isn't a hobby, for whom it is a job, something they want to build a life and a career around, for those people it can get frustrating after having expressed that passion to others, to have others quantify their goals as "hobby". "Hobby" suggests that it's a part time love, that you have a real job that is your real focus, I mean "Hobby" is defined as:

hobby 1 |ˈhäbē|
noun ( pl. -bies)
1 an activity done regularly in one's leisure time for pleasure

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. It's only wrong when that is not the definition of what you are doing.

But I agree with you, not every goal in life needs to be the highest form of excellence. Heck writing was a hobby for me as well up until three years ago. I was perfectly content to write on my computer, occasionally read some of my stuff aloud to family or friends and that was it. Something changed, and I desired publication, but up until my goals changed I was utterly content having writing as a hobby.

And I agree as well with your assessment of others and their views of writing (though personally I do appreciate the finesse it requires to be a plumber, or contractor, or lawyer - having had friends who do all of these things, I am in awe of them), and no we shouldn't take it personally, I know I don't. But sometimes, especially if you've never really had the empathy and support from your nearest and dearest, it's nice to vent. I'm lucky, I've had nothing but support from my friends and family.

Not everyone else has.

veinglory
06-25-2008, 06:58 PM
I think it is incorrect to say something done as a hobby is presumably done to a non-excellent standard. Look at your own defintion, it says done in leisure time for pleasure. I agreed totally. I write in my leisure time, for pleasure. I still submit to editors a product I consider to be excellent and they respect it enough to accept and publish it. Hence my occassional tagline: write for love, publish for money. One person's insult is another person's postive and non-derogatory self-description. I think that the flip side of asking people not to use the term incorrectly on you, is not to use it in a negative sense on others.

Quossum
06-25-2008, 06:58 PM
Well...okay. I can see the "hobby" statement being annoying if you're someone who really is doing it on a serious, full time, professional level with businesslike goals of publication. Then the "hobby" thing does come across as dismissive.

People do tend to see writing as a leisure sort of thing. But I still think they're jealous. :tongue

--Q

Toothpaste
06-25-2008, 07:08 PM
veinglory - I did not mean to offend. When I wrote "not every goal in life needs to be the highest form of excellence" I didn't mean that activities one did as a hobby COULDN'T be worked on with the goal of the highest form of excellence, simply that not everything we did in our life NEEDED to have that goal. Of course when one is passionate about something, anything, one wants to get really good at it, be it a sport, or an artform or whathaveyou.

However, I think lines get blurred in situations like yours. You see for me the hobby of writing, was writing for myself, not seeking publication. When I decided to write to be published, that's when it no longer was a hobby for me. For you you consider the exact same situation to be "hobby". I did not mean to offend you, but we obviously look at things differently when it comes to how we approach this artform. I envy you actually that you write for pleasure. I probably could take a leaf out of your book and not take my writing quite as seriously as I do (that is not meant as a veiled insult - "I take writing more seriously than you" - no, I truly believe I should 'lighten up". It's a flaw of mine in many different aspects of my life) , I wish I could look at the love first, the publication second as you say. But for me it's become the other way around. I know of others for whom this is also the case. I don't think it makes me any less passionate that my first goal is to be published, just different.

Nonetheless, surely you could then see how someone defining writing to me as a "hobby" I could find a bit annoying. Considering how much work I put into it, considering my full time jobs are writing and acting and nothing else, considering how hard it is for me, how sometimes downright painful, it can be almost absurd when others see my effort as a hobby.

But that is me. Not you. We are all different. Surely you can at least empathise where I am coming from?

Sargentodiaz
06-25-2008, 07:33 PM
My writing is a passion! At last, I have the time and manner to get out the words and stories that've filled my brain since I was a kid.
My only problem is a wife who's jealous about my passion, thionking I find it more important than her (will certainly change if I get published and make $$$$$).
It is also an amazing learning experience as I conduct research to ensure what I write is accurate and real.
IT IS NOT A HOBBY!

KTC
06-25-2008, 07:35 PM
Me too.

I'm hoping it stops soon.

I just made them believe it worked. They never mention it.

KTC
06-25-2008, 07:37 PM
Why can't writing be a hobby? I don't know. A lot of writers seem to think they have to get published or else their time was wasted. Is this a natural consequence of the depth of communication that writing embodies, the time it takes a reader to appreciate it? Other arts, like painting or singing or dancing, can be immediately experienced (at least on a superficial level) -- reading, even on a superficial level, requires a more substantial commitment.

With the proliferation of fiction and poetry sites on the web, including fan sites, including blogging, I think more people ARE growing content with writing as amateurs -- they can put their work out to the world and get readers and responses without paid publication. Watch this trend.

Still, there are those of us for whom only bound books in real bookstores will do. This is the validation we must have. Is it the same for other artists? Will they never rest until their paintings are in galleries, their feet on the stage of the Met? Is the drive for official recognition as important for them?

Another thing: Most people CAN write -- they know how to put words down on paper, learned it in school, have no great awe for the act. The graphic and plastic arts, music and dance, are more specialties, and most people find talent in them impressive. They could NEVER draw or sing or dance like that! But if they only had the TIME, they could turn out publishable work.

This is the truly annoying thing, that the average Joe doesn't appreciate the craft writing requires. But if you think about it, the average Joe also doesn't appreciate the craft of painting, is as happy with a black velvet bull fighter as with a Rembrandt -- or happier. And, you know what? You probably don't appreciate the intricacies of the plumbing or masonry or electrical work that Joe does. Or the lawyering or the doctoring or the nuclear sciencing.

Comes down to: We should all write like amateurs, lovers of the art. If we can't do this, if the Grail of publication is all that will make us happy, then are we really writers?

Does that reverse the popular judgment: You're not a real writer unless you're published? Good. It's supposed to.

It most definitely can be a hobby. It's when it's not your hobby and those around you call it a hobby that it's a real ass-burner. I sent my daughter to university with the money I made on my 'hobby'.

veinglory
06-25-2008, 07:55 PM
Words are funny things. It is possible that when people use the word hobby they simply do not understand what type of writing you do, or do not use the word hobby in the same way. I think taking it as a misunderstanding to correct, not an impuning statement, might help people--even when it isn't the case. ;)

That and being aware that some writers like me are walking around using the word hobby in a way you might not expect, thus the use of the word might be entirely innocent and mean something more like "I see you have a primary career that isn't writing". To which the reply might well be, "no actually this is how I pay the bills", or "yes I do but my real passion is for writing." etc.

benbradley
06-25-2008, 09:39 PM
We were talking in class today about the most annoying thing that people say, and we agreed that it's when people say, "How nice that you have such an interesting hobby!" Second was, "I'd write if I had more time." But we also agreed that it's weird that we all had people we love who seem compelled to undercut us. Anyone else have that?
It's sometimes hard to distinguish when someone just lacks understanding, and when they're being mean spirited, but the result is the same either way, so I try to stay away from them regardless. There are only a very few people I discuss my writing with outside of AW or from a face-to-face writing group, and these are people that I already know respect me as a human being.

I've had more than my share of "ego deflation" in my life and I don't need any more, thank you very friggin' much. (and yeah, this can make me a little sensitive and somewhat reluctant to put anything into SYW). I've done good to survive this long. I'm here on AW, and even learning a bit about writing, and doing other things I choose to do, in spite of what others might say about it.

Phaeal
06-25-2008, 10:11 PM
It most definitely can be a hobby. It's when it's not your hobby and those around you call it a hobby that it's a real ass-burner. I sent my daughter to university with the money I made on my 'hobby'.

Many people make money on their hobbies. You can meet them at any crafts fair. But I wasn't disputing your right to be offended if someone called your writing a hobby when you look on it as something else. As others have pointed out, the intention behind "Oh, that's an interesting hobby" can range from the benevolently clueless to the cruelly denigrating.

Besides. Humans always retain the right to be offended by anything another human says or does or seems to mean by that raised eyebrow. I think that falls under the "pursuit of happiness" clause. ;)

More interesting to me is the other part of my post, or what I was trying to put into it. That's the question of why many unpublished writers seem to feel their work was pointless because it's unsold (hence, only "amateur," only a "hobby," only a "pastime"). Writers too young to drive angst over their sad unpublished state. Writers who've turned out a first draft of a first story ever angst about it. I'm curious if this state of mind, this sense of incompletion without publication, is peculiar to writing.

Thinking about architecture. You can design any number of buildings, but it takes a huge amount of money, the patronage of clients, to make them actual, wood and stone. Hence Howard Roark, clientless, seeks some solace in supporting Stephen Mallory, the sculptor, who can do his work without clients.

Are readers clients? Is the word on the page only potential until it's read? Of course, we can always read our own words, but does that count? Is it enough? Without readers, is the circuit incomplete?

How about a musical composition never played, choreography never danced, a play never staged or a screenplay never filmed? All in the same boat?

What about publication (or performance) that doesn't pay? Does that count as sufficient validation, rescue from the insult of "hobbyist"? What about paid publication, for that matter? How MUCH do you have to make before you're taken seriously?

As an example of what some of us are shooting for, in order to don the pro hat, here are qualifications for active members of the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America):


Three Paid Sales (http://sfwa.org/org/qualify.htm#qual) of prose fiction (such as short stories) to Qualifying Professional Markets (http://sfwa.org/org/qualify.htm#list), with each paid at the rate of 5c/word or higher (3c/word before 1/1/2004), for a cumulative total of $250, minimum $50 apiece; or
One Paid Sale (http://sfwa.org/org/qualify.htm#qual) of a prose fiction book to a Qualifying Professional Market (http://sfwa.org/org/qualify.htm#list), for which the author has been paid $2000 or more.

So there is one definition of the nonhobbyist. I'm not saying you have to accept it, or the qualifications imposed by any other group or individual. If you say you're not a hobbyist, that's enough for me. I don't have any requirements before I accept your vocation. Vocation's something only you can be sure of. Just continuing to ponder the situation and the way others look at us.

ACEnders
06-25-2008, 10:15 PM
My writing is a passion!

Yup!

IceCreamEmpress
06-25-2008, 10:17 PM
I think that if you're someone for whom writing doesn't feel like a hobby, and someone mischaracterizes it in that way for you, it might be worth saying "Well, it's actually not a hobby for me--I look on it as a second job, even though most of my income comes from {day job} right now."

I know people whose full-time job is quilting, and I know people whose hobby is quilting, and I know people who have a day job doing something different and a second job quilting. For some reason, we find it harder to wrap our brains around this stuff when it's writing.

My husband has a day job as a computer scientist and he's also a professional singer/songwriter. He has friends who are full time musicians, and friends who are hobby musicians, but he's in the "second job" category--which is as much a state of mind as it is a bank statement!

BfloGal
06-25-2008, 10:27 PM
I consider my writing a hobby because I'm still learning, and haven't worked up the credentials or the confidence to call it anything else, but it has clearly become a passion and an obsession.

My preacher husband miffed me a little the other day when he suggested that he could write something better. He sent it to me. Who would have guessed he had a talent for erotica?;)

Other than that, my family is very supportive.

veinglory
06-25-2008, 11:10 PM
but he's in the "second job" category--which is as much a state of mind as it is a bank statement!

I agree, very much. I find it helps me to write more if I tell myself "you are doing this for fun". Because if I told myself "you are doing this for money" it would lead me to think 1) I'm going about making lots of money totally the wrong way and 2) due to prefering to lead a fairly frugal lifestyle and having a day job I like, I don't actually need the money.

Susan Breen
06-26-2008, 01:56 AM
This may all tie back into something that we also talk a lot about in class, which is the issue of when can you call yourself a writer. Because it is an essentially self-defining job, there are a lot of people, myself included, who never feel quite worthy. Which makes us touchy. Which is why when someone calls it a hobby, we feel a lot of stress. But I should say that my family has been incredibly supportive.

Susan Lanigan
06-26-2008, 02:16 AM
I tend to say to people, "I write on the side" as an explanation and then add, "it's a serious hobby". If I had novels published or if a significant tranche of my income came from fiction then I would probably consider myself a professional and describe myself that way.

veinglory
06-26-2008, 02:45 AM
I call it my 'hobby with benefits'. But then I have no probelm discussing exactly how much I earn. I find any figure with four or more digits impresses the bejeezuz out of most people.

Lyra Jean
06-26-2008, 09:53 PM
I found I was taking my writing way to seriously. Which is why I could never quite finish a novel. Now I'm taking a more laid back approach. I tell people that I write and am trying to get published and leave it at that. My friends and family are surprisingly supportive.

steveg144
06-26-2008, 11:38 PM
We were talking in class today about the most annoying thing that people say, and we agreed that it's when people say, "How nice that you have such an interesting hobby!" Second was, "I'd write if I had more time." But we also agreed that it's weird that we all had people we love who seem compelled to undercut us. Anyone else have that?

Of course. Some people very dear to me see it as a hobby, or worse. The unkindest cut is the references to "your little 'writing thing'" (with the obligatory "air quotes" around "writing thing"...). The kindest cut -- which may also be the unkindest cut, if you think about it -- is "hey look at it this way, you're having a great time with it, and if it never amounts to a damned thing, you got to spend a lot of time doing something you enjoy."

Quossum
06-27-2008, 06:31 PM
Of course. Some people very dear to me see it as a hobby, or worse. The unkindest cut is the references to "your little 'writing thing'" (with the obligatory "air quotes" around "writing thing"...).

Hee. That's what the career counselor at my HS called it when I said I wanted to be a writer. Zing!

--Q

ishtar'sgate
06-27-2008, 08:12 PM
We were talking in class today about the most annoying thing that people say, and we agreed that it's when people say, "How nice that you have such an interesting hobby!" Second was, "I'd write if I had more time." But we also agreed that it's weird that we all had people we love who seem compelled to undercut us. Anyone else have that?
My brother figured that if I could write a novel so could he. He was an avid reader and had a great idea so when he found time he started to write. He finished the first chapter. I didn't hear any more about it after that.
Linnea

Moonfish
06-28-2008, 09:07 PM
This may all tie back into something that we also talk a lot about in class, which is the issue of when can you call yourself a writer. Because it is an essentially self-defining job, there are a lot of people, myself included, who never feel quite worthy. Which makes us touchy. Which is why when someone calls it a hobby, we feel a lot of stress. But I should say that my family has been incredibly supportive.

I love how the English language has two words you can use: writer and author. Being a writer, to me, means having a state of mind, having decided that a writer is what you are, who you are. You view everything from your perspective as a writer.
Being an author (again, my definition) means you're published.
I had a lot of trouble defining myself as a writer, too. I did not feel worthy. But when I started writing daily and made the concious decision that I am a writer now and henceforth, I slowly owned the word.