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rickee
06-01-2011, 06:14 PM
To a lot of people, a writer isn't really a writer unless they're making money at it; otherwise they consider it to be just a hobby for you, despite years of education and effort. What they don't seem to realize is that a lot of writers and others with college degrees have to push carts at Wal-Mart.

Cyia
06-01-2011, 06:17 PM
A writer is a writer as soon as they put word to paper or screen.

An author is published.

Libbie
06-01-2011, 06:19 PM
All kinds of people with all kinds of experience and all kinds of education have to do push carts at Wal-Mart.

Cyia has it right, but of course in practice non-writers don't usually delineate between "writer" and "author."

I think most people don't lend much credence to the title "writer" unless somebody who doesn't know you personally has paid real, actual money for your writing. So somebody who has never had work published before isn't likely to be seen as more than a hobbyist by the world at large. Somebody who self-publishes and has only sold copies to friends and family isn't likely to be seen as more than a hobbyist by the world at large.

But so what? While he was alive, Vincent Van Gogh wasn't seen as much more than a hobbyist by the world at large.

Becca_H
06-01-2011, 06:28 PM
You can be a paid writer, and still consider it a hobby.
You can be a full-time writer, and still not consider it a "job."

It's all subjective.

gothicangel
06-01-2011, 06:47 PM
Well, as from today I'm officially unemployed so I'm classing my writing as my day job. :D

seun
06-01-2011, 06:51 PM
The only money I've made from writing was fifty quid about ten years ago. I haven't been paid since and I haven't stopped writing since.

As far as I'm concerned, I'm a writer with or without that fifty quid.

Bookewyrme
06-01-2011, 07:02 PM
The way I look at it, "writer" is a description of identity more than anything else. I mean, if you love to dance, and study it and practice it all the time, you are a dancer. You may not be a professional dancer (author) and only dance in your spare time, but you're still self-identified as a "dancer." The same is true of writers.

Also, attitude (as with everything) is important. If you tell people "I'm a writer" like you believe it yourself, they'll believe you too even if they know nothing you've written is published (yet). If you hedge and seem unsure about whether you're a Really Real Writer(tm) then they'll always assume that isn't who you really are, even after you're published. JMHO.

Devil Ledbetter
06-01-2011, 07:14 PM
I make most of my money from writing/editing but I've yet to make money from fiction. What does that make me? (Other than pretty lucky, not unemployed and not broke.)

cwfgal
06-01-2011, 07:39 PM
A writer is a writer as soon as they put word to paper or screen.

An author is published.

By this definition, everyone old enough/able to put a pen to paper, or type on a keyboard is a writer. It dilutes the word down to insignificance. By strict dictionary definition, it holds true--a writer is anyone who writes and what they write, whether it be a grocery list, an email, or a story, doesn't matter.

But I think the phrase "I'm a writer," implies a level of professionalism to many if not most people in our society today (at least those who don't define themselves as a writer), one that goes above and beyond the phrase "I write." "I'm a writer," is an evolving definition.

I think most people who are writing with the hope of publication define themselves as a writer. But I also think many in the public at large ascribe more importance to the title and equate "I'm a writer," with "I'm published (a definition that is also shifting daily it seems) and make money from my writing."

It's easy to succumb to the prestige and romance that goes along with saying, "I'm a writer," and very few make the distinction between professional and amateur when referring to themselves. The end result is a lot of confusion.

Beth

cwfgal
06-01-2011, 07:42 PM
I meant to add that the term "author" to many simply means "the creator of," and doesn't necessarily imply publication.

Beth

Anna L.
06-01-2011, 07:47 PM
I know of one girl who makes a living from her art and she still has trouble convincing people it's a 'real job'. People just don't understand how hard artists work. It's insulting when people react with 'Oh, you wrote a book? I'm going to write one too some day.' And you just know they never will because they don't understand it's actual work.

skylark
06-01-2011, 07:55 PM
To a lot of people, a writer isn't really a writer unless they're making money at it; otherwise they consider it to be just a hobby for you, despite years of education and effort. What they don't seem to realize is that a lot of writers and others with college degrees have to push carts at Wal-Mart.

To me, if someone says "I'm a writer" with no caveats then I assume this is their chosen career path and one which they are actively following.

If they're writing in their spare time and not making any money at it, then I do think that description is a little odd. It would be like me saying to somebody, "I'm a violinist," when in fact I play occasionally for fun. I had lessons, one-to-one, weekly, for over a decade, and practices daily for pretty much the entire time. What's that, if not years of education and effort? I still wouldn't consider using a term for myself which implies I'm a successful paid professional.

If you're not making money at it and you are spending most of your time working at a different job altogether then I'm afraid I would consider it just a hobby for you. Not supposed to be an insult. I'm not making any money at it, I'm just writing in my free time, and it's just a hobby for me too. Isn't that what hobbies are?

If someone asks me what I do? I'm a computer programmer. I'd only start coming out with "I'm a writer" and "I'm a violinist" if they specifically asked me what I did in my spare time. What you wish you were isn't the same as what you are.

rsullivan9597
06-01-2011, 08:59 PM
By this definition, everyone old enough/able to put a pen to paper, or type on a keyboard is a writer. It dilutes the word down to insignificance. By strict dictionary definition, it holds true--a writer is anyone who writes and what they write, whether it be a grocery list, an email, or a story, doesn't matter.

But I think the phrase "I'm a writer," implies a level of professionalism to many if not most people in our society today (at least those who don't define themselves as a writer), one that goes above and beyond the phrase "I write." "I'm a writer," is an evolving definition.

I think most people who are writing with the hope of publication define themselves as a writer. But I also think many in the public at large ascribe more importance to the title and equate "I'm a writer," with "I'm published (a definition that is also shifting daily it seems) and make money from my writing."

It's easy to succumb to the prestige and romance that goes along with saying, "I'm a writer," and very few make the distinction between professional and amateur when referring to themselves. The end result is a lot of confusion.

Beth

I agree with Beth - to define a writer as anyone who can put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard dilutes the term to insignificance.

Also I think that most people wouldn't distinquish the difference between a writer and an author - they would say the words are equivalent.

There are hundreds of thousands aspiring writers - those who would like to see their words in print and make a living doing so but only a very few who actually do. Even many "professional writers" have to suplement their income with a "day job" as even having six or seven books produced by major trade pressess still nets them only a few thousand a year.

Call yourself what you like. But for purposes of my posts when I refer to a "writer" I mean someone who can earn $45,000+ a year or more from writing. Which will disqualify all but a few (I think).

rickee
06-01-2011, 09:07 PM
It oftentimes goes like this: you're standing with a group of people and someone asks "What do you do for a living?" Your meek response: "I'm, a, uh, writer." They then ask: "Oh, what have you written?" You try to stave off embarrassment by saying "Oh, mostly fiction." Naturally they'll prod further with "No, I mean what books do you have in print?"

Cyia
06-01-2011, 09:35 PM
It oftentimes goes like this: you're standing with a group of people and someone asks "What do you do for a living?" Your meek response: "I'm, a, uh, writer." They then ask: "Oh, what have you written?" You try to stave off embarrassment by saying "Oh, mostly fiction." Naturally they'll prod further with "No, I mean what books do you have in print?"

It's no different than someone who's currently waiting tables saying "I'm an actor" when asked what they do. It goes with the territory.

Little Ming
06-01-2011, 11:52 PM
:Shrug:


To me a "writer" is someone who writes. That's all. If you want to distinguish yourself then you can say you are a "published author" or a "professional writer" or a "non-fiction writer" or "best-selling author" or "whatever." But I'm not too hung up on titles. When people ask what I do I say "I write." Not even "writer" or "author." Let them think what they want. People who know me well know I'm an aspiring-yet-currently-still-unpublished-epic-political-fantasy-writer. But why make a big deal of it. :tongue

quicklime
06-02-2011, 01:00 AM
a writer writes.

I won't consider myself a writer, author, or successful either one until I'm comfortably published because that's the bar I set for myself, but I think it is reasonable to say anyone who writes regularly can call themselves a writer.

Now some coffee-shop douchebag who types a few paragraphs a month because mostly he's looking over his espresso trying to see who might be watching him descend from the heavens and bring witness upon his keyboard with prose that would make Jesus weep and spends all his tim talking about how clever he is instead of actually writing, well, that's just a douchebag who talks a lot.

Wayne K
06-02-2011, 01:03 AM
I'm a douchebag who writes a lot :D

I'm also an author

shelleyo
06-02-2011, 01:52 AM
To a lot of people, a writer isn't really a writer unless they're making money at it; otherwise they consider it to be just a hobby for you, despite years of education and effort. What they don't seem to realize is that a lot of writers and others with college degrees have to push carts at Wal-Mart.

So?

Why does it matter if they think it's a hobby? If you're not making a living at it or making enough that you can consider it steady part-time work, by definition it is a hobby. That doesn't mean you don't take it damn seriously.

Don't worry about labels. You'll be happier for it.

Shelley

AlwaysJuly
06-02-2011, 02:24 AM
If you're not making money at it and you are spending most of your time working at a different job altogether then I'm afraid I would consider it just a hobby for you. Not supposed to be an insult. I'm not making any money at it, I'm just writing in my free time, and it's just a hobby for me too. Isn't that what hobbies are?


I have lots of friends starting businesses in their spare time after their day job, but no one calls them "hobbyists". I don't think the word is insulting, I just don't think - for me -it's applicable. My hobbies are baking, running, and playing soccer, things for which I know there will be no monetary reward. I don't get up at 5am to write before I go to my day job for a hobby, I do it because I think I have a real chance of making some money!

Jamesaritchie
06-02-2011, 04:34 AM
To a lot of people, a writer isn't really a writer unless they're making money at it; otherwise they consider it to be just a hobby for you, despite years of education and effort. What they don't seem to realize is that a lot of writers and others with college degrees have to push carts at Wal-Mart.

Yes, many with college degrees have to push carts at Wal-Mart. But it sure as heck isn't because they're successful in whatever field their degree is in. It's because they aren't successful at whatever field their degree is in.

Fine, just writing makes you a writer, but when you use the word "writer" in this way, what meaning does it have?

This is one of the biggest changes I've seen since I first started writing. Used to be, back in the stone age, that new writers said, "I'm trying to be a writer." Or even used that now dreadful and politically incorrect phrase, "I'm a wannabe writer."

Those who manged to sell a bit here and there, but who weren't making any real money said, "I'm a struggling writer."

Now we're all writers just because we waste paper or fill a screen with words. We don't have to actually be any good, but we're never horrible, and we never fail, of course. We can't fail because we all know that the only true failure is not trying. We don't have to accomplish anything, we never have to write anything that people all over Reader Land love, we just have to sit down and do something that school kids all over the world can do. Something that literally anyone who isn't totally illiterate can do. We try, so we are. We try, so we're automatically writers.

Maybe so, but I still see no meaning in the word when used this way. Tell a dozen strangers you're an electrician, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or an auto mechanic, or whatever, and the words will stick in your throat, even if you're studying hard to be one of these things.

But tell them you're a writer, and you believe it, so the words come out just fine. Maybe a bit hollow, but still nice and smooth. They won't take it the same way you mean it, but you'll say it just fine.

But, fine, we're all writers. Now what?

juniper
06-02-2011, 04:45 AM
It seems that now everyone who's put any old thing up on Amazon has a "John Doe, Author" page on Facebook.

"Author" doesn't have any special cachet anymore, apparently.


A writer is a writer as soon as they put word to paper or screen.

An author is published.

shelleyo
06-02-2011, 04:54 AM
I make a living as a writer. It's my only income. When people ask me what I do, I tell them I'm a writer. (Though with a couple, I did say "professional writer," because I knew what would be coming otherwise.)

Most will then ask what I've written. When I explain that the stuff that pays the bills isn't in a bookstore, and no they've probably never read anything I've written unless they read a lot of business articles and such, they still look at me like I'm telling tales. I must not really be a writer.

So don't get hung up on labels, OP, because some people will think you must be some kind of failure if you're not working for an employer 9 to 5. You can't escape that, and you can't please everybody, so please yourself.

In my mind, I distinguish between writer and professional writer. I consider myself a professional writer, because that's what I do professionally and get paid for.

Shelley

HarryHoskins
06-02-2011, 04:55 AM
You ain't a writer until somebody else says you are, you understand.

Victoria
06-02-2011, 07:00 AM
I have a college degree, and I drive a school bus. I'm also a writer. Maybe someday, I will be a published author. Fiction has been a love of mine since I told my first lie. When I could write those lies down...Glory. Whether you make money from writing, or you simply love to write, you are a writer. It goes deeper in some capacity than just jotting down words. That is my opinion, anyway.

blacbird
06-02-2011, 08:09 AM
But so what? While he was alive, Vincent Van Gogh wasn't seen as much more than a hobbyist by the world at large.

And sliced an ear off and not long after shot himself fatally in a wheatfield. Sold exactly one painting before that.

Some role model, VVG.

seun
06-02-2011, 01:50 PM
And sliced an ear off and not long after shot himself fatally in a wheatfield. Sold exactly one painting before that.

Some role model, VVG.

At least he got to be in Dr Who.

As for the label of writer, I really couldn't care less what people call me or what I call myself.

I'm too busy writing.

Wayne K
06-02-2011, 02:29 PM
I don't understand how the term being used by people who aren't writers dilutes it. If they haven't written anything significant, no one hears them say it. :Shrug:

I'm with Seun. Too busy too care because I have work to do.

Snitchcat
06-02-2011, 02:59 PM
IMO: at heart, I'm a writer -- it's what I always do, regardless of circumstance. It might get put on the backburner while I sort out life, but writing is what I never stop thinking about; I never stop crafting stories, or articles, even if they're currently intangible. It's the one thing I always return to.

To me, that's what a writer is: someone who never stops writing, regardless of method, writing stage / level, time or situation.

Terie
06-02-2011, 02:59 PM
It oftentimes goes like this: you're standing with a group of people and someone asks "What do you do for a living?" Your meek response: "I'm, a, uh, writer." They then ask: "Oh, what have you written?" You try to stave off embarrassment by saying "Oh, mostly fiction." Naturally they'll prod further with "No, I mean what books do you have in print?"

I'm with the folks who say that if someone is writing regularly, they're a writer.

But this that I quoted above doesn't make any sense. If someone asks what you do for a living, they're asking about what you do for money. That's what 'for a living' means. So if you aren't living off of the proceeds of your writing, then saying you're a writer to that particular question simply isn't true.

If someone asks what you do for a living, and you reply that you're a writer, it's perfectly reasonable for them to ask about what you've had published, because you just told them that you make money from writing.

When someone asks me what I do for a living, I tell them I'm a technical writer. That's what I do for the money I use to pay my bills. If they seem interested beyond just the cursory answer, I might tell them I also write fiction and have had four novels published plus am the co-ghostwriter of a memoir. But I don't claim to be a novelist 'for a living' because my income from my books isn't anything like enough to pay the bills.

So. If you're writing regularly, working at improving your craft, with the intent of one day being published, yes, you're a writer. Absolutely, 100%, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. And don't feel embarrassed about it, either.

But if you aren't living off an income from your writing, don't tell folks it's what you do for a living. That's all.

Anne Lyle
06-02-2011, 03:10 PM
Everyone has their own definition of "writer" - even on AW :)

I think if you're genuinely trying to get published*, you can call yourself a writer. After all, if you open a flower shop you can call yourself a florist, whether or not you are making a profit.

* And by that I mean writing enough words, often enough, well enough to have a snowball's chance in hell of getting published in the foreseeable future. As a rule of thumb: writing a handful of chapters of your novel in a year is a hobby; writing and submitting a bunch of short stories, or writing an entire draft of a novel, in that same timespan is being a serious writer.

AmsterdamAssassin
06-02-2011, 03:11 PM
I agree with Beth - to define a writer as anyone who can put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard dilutes the term to insignificance.


Call yourself what you like. But for purposes of my posts when I refer to a "writer" I mean someone who can earn $45,000+ a year or more from writing. Which will disqualify all but a few (I think).

So, not only should a 'writer' be published, but also commercially successful? I'm sorry, but this post lowers my opinion of you. You won't care about that, of course, but I know authors who have been published and have yet to attain the lofty goal of earning 45,000 dollars per year.

I assume Charlie Parker wasn't a musician because he was always broke?:Shrug:

Anne Lyle
06-02-2011, 03:17 PM
So, not only should a 'writer' be published, but also commercially successful? I'm sorry, but this post lowers my opinion of you. You won't care about that, of course, but I know authors who have been published and have yet to attain the lofty goal of earning 45,000 dollars per year.

I assume Charlie Parker wasn't a musician because he was always broke?:Shrug:

Hear, hear! By that standard, Philip K Dick wasn't a writer either. Or Jane Austen. (adjusting sums for inflations)

Terie
06-02-2011, 03:19 PM
So, not only should a 'writer' be published, but also commercially successful? I'm sorry, but this post lowers my opinion of you. You won't care about that, of course, but I know authors who have been published and have yet to attain the lofty goal of earning 45,000 dollars per year.

I assume Charlie Parker wasn't a musician because he was always broke?:Shrug:

I guess lots of published authors aren't writers, either, by Robin's definition. Neither was her husband, for that matter, for all those years he spent writing before he started making $45,000 per year. And if you only make $44,500 in a year? Sorry, not a writer.

But, hey, at least I made the cut.

Or wait. Since my more-than-$45K per year comes from writing documentation for a software company rather than from published books, maybe I'm not a writer, either.

:Shrug:

shaldna
06-02-2011, 03:25 PM
:


Originally Posted by rsullivan9597 http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=6202194#post6202194)
I agree with Beth - to define a writer as anyone who can put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard dilutes the term to insignificance.


Call yourself what you like. But for purposes of my posts when I refer to a "writer" I mean someone who can earn $45,000+ a year or more from writing. Which will disqualify all but a few (I think).

So, not only should a 'writer' be published, but also commercially successful? I'm sorry, but this post lowers my opinion of you. You won't care about that, of course, but I know authors who have been published and have yet to attain the lofty goal of earning 45,000 dollars per year.

I assume Charlie Parker wasn't a musician because he was always broke?:Shrug:


Hear, hear! By that standard, Philip K Dick wasn't a writer either. Or Jane Austen. (adjusting sums for inflations)


I guess lots of published authors aren't writers, either, by Robin's definition. Neither was her husband, for that matter, for all those years he spent writing before he started making $45,000 per year. And if you only make $44,500 in a year? Sorry, not a writer.

But, hey, at least I made the cut.

Or wait. Since my more-than-$45K per year comes from writing documentation for a software company rather than from published books, maybe I'm not a writer, either.

:Shrug:

I don't think you can put a monetary value on a definition. And sucess is subjective. Maybe $20k a year is a good living wage for one person, and they make that writing. Then they are a writer. For another person they might make $30k or $100k.

Look at it this way, if you work in a bar 3 nights a week, it's not your full time job, and you probably don't make a lot of money doing it, but your still a barmaid, right?

What about all those volunteers who do charitable work? Doctors who do free work in war zones - they aren't getting paid for that, are they still a doctor? By placing a monetary value on something, you would say not.

The same goes for writing, if you write, if you create, and if you consider yourself a writer, then it doesn't matter if you do it for free, or earn a million a year, or whether you do it for half and hour a week, or fourteen hours a day.

Terie
06-02-2011, 04:53 PM
Call yourself what you like. But for purposes of my posts when I refer to a "writer" I mean someone who can earn $45,000+ a year or more from writing. Which will disqualify all but a few (I think).

By the way, Robin. If Jim Hines isn't even a writer according to your definition of the word, why did you use him as the 'commercially published mid-list author' in your 'Midlist Authors – Traditional or Self Publishing – a Comparison' (http://write2publish.blogspot.com/2011/04/midlist-authors-traditional-or-self.html) post? According to the numbers you presented there, which I'm sure are correct as Jim has been very open and public about his earnings:


# 2007 Income: $16,000 ($7,000 Foreign Sales) $2,500 Expenses, Net: $13,500

# 2008 Income: $54,000 ($44,000 Foreign Sales) $3,00 Expenses, Net $51,000

# 2009 Income: $28,940 ($20,200 Foreign Sales) $1,750 Expenses, Net $27,190

# 2010 Income: $25,718 ($15,876 Foreign Sales) $2,000 Expenses, Net $23,718

(emphasis mine)

So now you would have us believe that Jim isn't even a writer, because he doesn't make $45,000 a year. Or, well, I guess he was a writer in 2008, but not in any other years of his life.

And, hey, if he isn't a writer, then how the hell is he making any money at all from his, yanno, writing?

Also? What DO we call people who write for a living or as a hobby below the $45,000-per-year level?

I find it weird that anyone would define 'writer' in such a way as to exclude more than 99% of people who write from being able to call themselves that. Talk about elitist.

AmsterdamAssassin
06-02-2011, 06:28 PM
I work as a security officer, about 40 hours a week. Why? Because I can use 6 hours out of every shift for writing my novels. And I know plenty of published and unpublished writers who have dayjobs to pay the rent. After all, I have a family to feed.

I had a conversation with my brother, who works as a printer and gets tremendous enjoyment out of that job. He thought it was weird that I called myself a writer, but that I didn't 'work in the field', but worked as a security officer, which didn't satisfy me. With work 'in the field' he meant, work at a publishing house. I told him that even if a publishing house was deluded enough to hire me, without any viable education other than writing fiction for 18 years, would they pay me as much as I would earn as a security officer? And what would I do for my salary? Read other people's manuscripts, instead of working at my own?

My brother is right in the aspect that my work is 'beneath me', but I only work in security to have the free time at work so I can write. Security is not my career, writing is. Just as I can imagine Charles Bukowski didn't see himself as a postal clerk, despite working at a post office for more than a decade.

Anne Lyle
06-02-2011, 06:57 PM
He thought it was weird that I called myself a writer, but that I didn't 'work in the field', but worked as a security officer, which didn't satisfy me. With work 'in the field' he meant, work at a publishing house.

1. Publishing is not a writer's "field", any more than working in a supermarket produce department is a farmer's "field" (no pun intended). We produce the raw material, other people package and sell it. Some basic knowledge of the business end helps, but it's not essential.

2. I bet being a security officer is far more useful to you, as a thriller writer, than any number of years working in publishing! I did admittedly work in publishing for a while (non-fiction), but before that I was a field biologist, a freelance illustrator, a librarian...

cwfgal
06-02-2011, 07:00 PM
The definition of a writer can certainly be sketchy.

I have made more than $45K in a year from my writing...did so for several years in fact. Most of that income was from nonfiction, freelance work and I eventually let it all go and returned to a "day job" so I could focus solely on writing fiction (and get those costly bennies back). I made right around $45K from each of my first three novels but that income was spread out over several years. My income from my current novels so far is below $10K a year (though I'm due a royalty statement any day here and this year might clear the $10K mark). Seems to me using an income amount to define a writer is arbitrary and a bit elitist.

I have five novels published, another coming out in August, and two more under contract. I also have a day job, two of them, in fact. So am I a writer? Am I a professional writer?

I tell people I am, though how I define myself occupationally may vary depending on who I'm talking to. Does a patient I care for in the ER care that I'm a writer? Nope. Does a potential real estate client care that I'm a writer? Nope. Do other writers care that I'm a Realtor and an ER nurse? Only if my areas of expertise might be useful to them.

I also do stained glass (ADD anyone???) and I have sold a few pieces, but I consider that a hobby.

How we define ourselves is really irrelevant in most cases but it is frustrating that the there is no good term that can be used to distinguish a writer who is published and makes money from their writing from one who isn't and doesn't. And since the publishing industry is evolving rapidly right now, I don't see much clarity coming soon. Is there a difference between a writer who self-publishes a novel and makes some money from it and a writer who sells to a commercial publisher and makes some money from it?

I think the confusing nomenclature is strong evidence of just how crazy this evolving industry is right now.

Beth

Linds
06-02-2011, 07:27 PM
I think a lot of people expect you to find work in publishing if you write in the same sort of way they think you want to be a teacher if you get an English or History degree. It's the first thing they'd ask when I would tell them my major while in college.

I do think the term 'writer' is tricky, because what you 'do' and what's your paid 'job' can be different. I would consider myself I writer because I am writing (with an eye towards applying to grad school), but I do think if you tell most people you are a writer, they equate writer with published author and assume it is your 'job' - what you 'do' for a living, and that you've been published, etc. To me its a bit like 'all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares.'

Phil_Hall
06-02-2011, 07:43 PM
A writer is a writer as soon as they put word to paper or screen.

An author is published.

That is 1000000% correct, and the definition I use as well.

AmsterdamAssassin
06-02-2011, 07:55 PM
I had a friend who was preoccupied with martial arts, having not much else in his life. Everytime he introduced me to his friends, he added 'aikido master' to my name. I told him not to do that anymore. Not just because I'm not a 'master' in aikido, but merely a practitioner [I do instruct people in self-defense 'based on the principles of aikido', but I'm not an 'aikido instructor', much less a martial arts master], but also because of the connotations -- people outside the martial arts often think that a black belt means you can kill with a single piercing glance. I don't want a reputation as a fighter. I'd rather be viewed as harmless... :)

Same goes for 'security officer': the connotations are mostly people fascinated with uniforms, but who failed a law enforcement aptitude test. And I do have some colleagues who fit that profile, which is why I rarely tell people that I'm a security officer.

The fact is, I rarely tell people that I'm ' a writer'. I tell them I write fiction. And if they ask I tell them I wrote a book and I'm working on the sequel. Writing is just one of the things I do.

AlwaysJuly
06-02-2011, 08:03 PM
I have to say, while I consider myself a writer, it's not something I tell other people. I think I'd probably have to sell a few novels - rather than the few poems and few stories I've sold now - to feel self-confident enough to say that with a straight face to perfect strangers.

But my day job is interesting enough, so I'm just going with that for now when people ask!

Linds
06-02-2011, 08:10 PM
Ha, true. I agree, while I do consider myself I writer, it's not really something I introduce myself as.

blacbird
06-02-2011, 10:07 PM
I don't usually tell people I know that I write stuff, because if I do, the inevitable question follows concerning what I have published.

VTwriter
06-03-2011, 12:20 AM
Put me in the "who gives a rat's ass" category. I don't care whether anyone else calls me a writer or an author or a wannabee. I write because I enjoy it. I'd love to have it published, but not being published won't keep me from writing.

I own a large piece of land. I chop down trees, section them, and then split those sections into firewood. Using the firewood in my wood stove saves on the heating bills. Does that make me a lumberjack? I don't give a rat's ass. :)

Phaeal
06-03-2011, 12:32 AM
A writer is a writer as soon as they put word to paper or screen.

An author is published.

Agents and editors don't make this distinction -- I have the "Dear Author" rejection letters to prove it.

:D

Wayne K
06-03-2011, 12:36 AM
I think I got a "Dear, Who Gives a Rat's Ass..." once

Phaeal
06-03-2011, 12:37 AM
I'm a douchebag who writes a lot :D

I'm also an author

No, Wayne, you can't be a douchebag, because you've already told us that V. S. Naipaul is a douchebag, and you're not V. S. Naipaul.

Let's keep our terminology straight here. :D

Susan Littlefield
06-04-2011, 09:41 AM
In my work, I write on a daily basis, everything from ghost writing reports for attorneys to complex summaries of data. Would I call myself a writer? No. I am a paralegal who is required to write, because this is my profession.

I have a few short stories published, and some poetry. I am revising one novel (which is fun by the way!) and writing another. I tell others I like to write, that I have some publications. I am not an author, because I do not have a novel or book published. I am never ashamed to admit that I make little money from writing, that writing at this juncture is more of a hobby than anything else. This does not mean I am not serious about my writing and seeking publication, because I am. This is just the place I am at right now.

blacbird
06-04-2011, 09:44 AM
Lately I've been writing a lot. Pretty much all academic science papers, of specialist interest only, drier than Death Valley in an August noon. Does that count as "a writer"?

Susan Littlefield
06-04-2011, 10:11 AM
Lately I've been writing a lot. Pretty much all academic science papers, of specialist interest only, drier than Death Valley in an August noon. Does that count as "a writer"?

That would be up to you to decide. :)

aliceshortcake
06-04-2011, 03:01 PM
I may well be the most obscure author ever published by Oxford University Press. About five years ago they paid me the whopping sum of 60 to use one of my online theatre reviews in a school textbook. I didn't make a note of the title, lost the letter in which they asked my permission to use my review, and when I enquired about it later they were unable to help me - so I've never even seen my words in print!

My other literary work consists of adaptations of Shakespeare, including a two-part version of the Henry VI trilogy, and reworkings of plays by Plautus and Seneca. Since these have no chance of getting into print I'll probably go to my grave as...well, the most obscure author ever published by Oxford University Press. :Shrug:

JSSchley
06-04-2011, 05:22 PM
I'm not sure saying "a writer is one who writes" dilutes the definition to no meaning. But perhaps something more like, "a writer is one who writes with intention and continuity?"

For instance, I would consider a nine-year-old who spends all her spare time at the computer typing out stories a writer; the guy who scribbles down an idea on a beverage napkin but never does anything with it, not.

Re: academic writing, I TA a class taught by a professor who has written several NYT bestselling books for non-academic audiences. One of my students came to my office hours and asked if the prof thought of herself as a writer or a professor first. I chuckled and explained to him that even if we never manage to get on the NYT, all of us who are or want to be professors end up as pretty serous writers. :)

Little Ming
06-05-2011, 12:42 AM
I think I am, therefore I am. Zen, baby... :tongue

But seriously, even if one day I become massively successful and sell billions and billions of books there still going to be some good number of people that don't think I'm a "writer" or at least not a "good writer." Can't please everyone.

I write, therefore I am a writer. :)

bsymom
06-07-2011, 07:23 AM
Don't know how many people actually know this, but according to the IRS, you can deduct any expenses if you are a writer (published or not)...So, I guess, even the IRS thinks I'm a writer!! :D

I write. I love it. I don't know what I would do without it. Sometimes, it's the only thing that keeps me sane. Whether I'm tapping on the keyboard or putting pen to paper. Therefore, I am a writer.

blacbird
06-07-2011, 11:40 AM
Don't know how many people actually know this, but according to the IRS, you can deduct any expenses if you are a writer (published or not)

Don't bet your firstborn child on this. Generally, in order to deduct expenses from your taxes you need to be able to prove the expenses are related to income-generating activities.

Anne Lyle
06-07-2011, 12:18 PM
Certainly in the UK, the tax man takes a dim view of anyone claiming expenses on a "business" which never earns any money. I don't mean profit, but income. If you're not being paid for your writing, it's a hobby and they don't want to know.

And as blacbird says, the expenses need to relate to your income-generating writing. Depending on your country's tax rules, that could include depreciation on the laptop you bought specifically so you could write in the library, the conventions you need to attend in order to promote yourself and your work, the cost of running your author website, that kind of thing.

Terie
06-07-2011, 01:32 PM
Don't bet your firstborn child on this. Generally, in order to deduct expenses from your taxes you need to be able to prove the expenses are related to income-generating activities.

In the US, you can run a loss with no income from writing for a few years before the IRS considers it a hobby. But, if audited, you must be able to prove that you were actively engaged in trying to write for profit...for example, having manuscripts, query letters, rejection letters, and so on.

I'm not sure how many years you can claim business expenses without income before you have to stop, though. I'm thinking maybe five.

Caveat: I am not a tax or other type of accountant, nor am I a lawyer. As always, do your own research before messing about with tax stuff.

shaldna
06-07-2011, 03:48 PM
Don't bet your firstborn child on this. Generally, in order to deduct expenses from your taxes you need to be able to prove the expenses are related to income-generating activities.


Certainly in the UK, the tax man takes a dim view of anyone claiming expenses on a "business" which never earns any money. I don't mean profit, but income. If you're not being paid for your writing, it's a hobby and they don't want to know.

And as blacbird says, the expenses need to relate to your income-generating writing. Depending on your country's tax rules, that could include depreciation on the laptop you bought specifically so you could write in the library, the conventions you need to attend in order to promote yourself and your work, the cost of running your author website, that kind of thing.

I know that in the UK a writer can claim for household expenses if they work from home.in fact, anyone who works from home can claim some dedcutions.

We get deductions based on the size of the house, it basically works out at about a quart of the house. You can do the same with rates deductions too, writing a quarter off against tax. We are also able to claim some electricity and heating usage off our tax bill too.

It's all a bit complicated, and I don't really understand it, but I do know that there's a lot you can claim for here because Hubby was going through it all with his accountant the other week

AlwaysJuly
06-07-2011, 04:19 PM
You can claim expenses for 3 years before you're required to show some profit in the U.S. tax code. So, for instance, this year I'll claim my writer's conference fee and travel as an expense, which is a lot more than the $85 in profit I've made so far this year, but it does validate my expenses in terms of the IRS.

cwfgal
06-07-2011, 07:25 PM
You can only deduct expenses without income (not profit) for three years. After three years of no income related to the "business" it's considered a hobby.

Beth

COchick
06-07-2011, 07:31 PM
Hurray for being able to claim expenses as a writer!

However, if someone asks "what" I do (which doesn't happen very often) I don't say writer. I don't know if I ever will. Just saying it opens up all sorts of questions and explanations I'd rather avoid.

skylark
06-08-2011, 12:21 AM
It's all a bit complicated, and I don't really understand it, but I do know that there's a lot you can claim for here because Hubby was going through it all with his accountant the other week

You can, but it's not quite as nice as you might think because you may also have to declare your home as business premises.

I looked into it (I worked from home as a computer programmer for a decade) and it wasn't worth it for me. YMMV, of course.

shelleyo
06-08-2011, 12:57 AM
You can, but it's not quite as nice as you might think because you may also have to declare your home as business premises.

I looked into it (I worked from home as a computer programmer for a decade) and it wasn't worth it for me. YMMV, of course.

Writing is my full-time income and I don't deduct anything. I add it all up every year just in case, but the amount I could declare is far less than the standard deduction I get to take. Unless you can itemize enough so that it's more than your deduction, it's pointless. Even with the purchase of a laptop one year I didn't get anywhere near enough to bother with itemizing deductions.

Also consider that if you can itemize deductions in an amount that's more than your standard deduction (and making it worth your while) your writing goes from hobby status to business in almost all cases, and the taxes you have to pay will double. So what you might save in federal tax will probably disappear when you have to pay Social Security taxes.

Shelley

Carrie in PA
06-08-2011, 03:36 PM
I was thinking about this last night, for some odd reason. I think you're a writer if you think you're a writer. I sing - a lot and loudly, and I'm not horrible. But I don't think of myself as a singer in any way, shape or form. My very good friend thinks of herself as a singer. She does occasional "gigs" that are unpaid, like entertainment during community events. She writes songs, but doesn't consider herself a songwriter. She doesn't get paid, but she's a singer.

I don't get paid (yet), but I'm a writer.

So I think it just depends on how you define yourself that matters.

Terie
06-08-2011, 03:41 PM
Writing is my full-time income and I don't deduct anything. I add it all up every year just in case, but the amount I could declare is far less than the standard deduction I get to take. Unless you can itemize enough so that it's more than your deduction, it's pointless. Even with the purchase of a laptop one year I didn't get anywhere near enough to bother with itemizing deductions.

Also consider that if you can itemize deductions in an amount that's more than your standard deduction (and making it worth your while) your writing goes from hobby status to business in almost all cases, and the taxes you have to pay will double. So what you might save in federal tax will probably disappear when you have to pay Social Security taxes.

Shelley

I think you should check with a tax accountant. I *think* (again, not an accountant or lawyer! :D) business profit/loss is a separate form from deductions. IIRC, I've filled out the profit/loss form for years and never once claimed itemized deductions. I'm pretty sure they're two different things. You might discover that you've been cheating yourself. It's worth checking into.

cwfgal
06-08-2011, 07:15 PM
I think you should check with a tax accountant. I *think* (again, not an accountant or lawyer! :D) business profit/loss is a separate form from deductions. IIRC, I've filled out the profit/loss form for years and never once claimed itemized deductions. I'm pretty sure they're two different things. You might discover that you've been cheating yourself. It's worth checking into.

I second this suggestion (and the disclaimer since I'm not an accountant). The business related expenses you incur are deducted from your business income to come up with a number that is used to calculate your adjusted gross income. Itemized deductions are a separate thing. My accountants (I've had three over the past 16 years) deduct all of my writing expenses from my writing income, including the use of the space in my home that is my office. That's done on a business profit/loss form that calculates a bottom line income that is used for AGI. My itemized deductions are taken off of that amount.

Beth

cwfgal
06-08-2011, 07:20 PM
Also consider that if you can itemize deductions in an amount that's more than your standard deduction (and making it worth your while) your writing goes from hobby status to business in almost all cases, and the taxes you have to pay will double. So what you might save in federal tax will probably disappear when you have to pay Social Security taxes.

Shelley

This makes no sense to me. As far as I know, any income you have is subject to taxes and the definition of business vs hobby has nothing to do with the amount of your deductible business expenses or your itemized/standard deductions.

Beth

shaldna
06-08-2011, 07:50 PM
You can, but it's not quite as nice as you might think because you may also have to declare your home as business premises.

I looked into it (I worked from home as a computer programmer for a decade) and it wasn't worth it for me. YMMV, of course.

It's not about it being 'nice' - and I don't know where you are, but in the UK plenty of people work from home. You don't have to declare your home as anything, because it's still a residentialy zoned area, BUT you will need to register that address as your business address with HMRC (revenue and customs).



I think you should check with a tax accountant. I *think* (again, not an accountant or lawyer! :D) business profit/loss is a separate form from deductions. IIRC, I've filled out the profit/loss form for years and never once claimed itemized deductions. I'm pretty sure they're two different things. You might discover that you've been cheating yourself. It's worth checking into.

I agree. Profit and loss are different from tax deductions.

Things you can write off against tax include things like equipment necessary for business, depreciation on it, charity donations, if you work at home you can claim some heat, electricity and rates against your taxes. travel related to work and certain training courses also.

obviously, if you don;t make a profit then tax deductions don't apply. But the deductions are counted against your tax bill, and even just a few deductions can make a big difference.



This makes no sense to me. As far as I know, any income you have is subject to taxes and the definition of business vs hobby has nothing to do with the amount of your deductible business expenses or your itemized/standard deductions.

Beth

This.

Business vs hobby makes no difference if they are both making money.

BUT in order to claim tax deductions you need to be making money doing it. I mean, if you write and never publish or seek to, then it's not a business, it's a hobby. If you make money from it, then not only are you liable to pay tax on it, but you then have the option of applying for deductions on that tax.

Honestly, take every deduction you can folks. It's worth talking it all through with an accountant.

shelleyo
06-09-2011, 01:18 AM
Oh guys, thanks for setting me straight. I do count business expenses, but for some reason my head was on deductions a person might take if they add up to more than the standard deduction. I don't know where my head was. Rather, it was in a dark, cramped and unpleasant place that we won't talk about. ;)

Thanks!

Shelley

Anne Lyle
06-09-2011, 01:38 AM
Honestly, take every deduction you can folks. It's worth talking it all through with an accountant.

Fortunately one of my writing buddies is a personal tax advisor :)

Of course things are slightly different in the UK and the US. Over here, you only have to fill in tax assessment forms if you're self-employed (e.g. earning money from writing) in addition to, or instead of, regular employment. Ordinary employees have all their tax calculated by the employer.

benbradley
06-09-2011, 02:13 AM
...
The fact is, I rarely tell people that I'm ' a writer'. I tell them I write fiction. And if they ask I tell them I wrote a book and I'm working on the sequel. Writing is just one of the things I do.
Labels are funny things, and often aren't even accurate. Back when I was getting drunk several nights a week, I never told anyone I was an alcoholic. But after I quit drinking there were a few years that I wish I had gotten paid a dollar for every time I said I was an alcoholic.

Nowadays I say I'm a human being, and I'm sticking to it no matter what anyone else says.

Tifferbugz
06-09-2011, 02:53 AM
Oh guys, thanks for setting me straight. I do count business expenses, but for some reason my head was on deductions a person might take if they add up to more than the standard deduction. I don't know where my head was. Rather, it was in a dark, cramped and unpleasant place that we won't talk about. ;)

Thanks!

Shelley

If this information has already been posted, feel free to ignore this post, I noticed a lot of information that was applicable to the UK rather than the US, and I see that you're from the US so I thought I'd take a stab at some high-level help.

In the US, you can have business expenses that exceed business income, this results in a business loss, which in pass through entities (sole proprietorship, LLC, etc.) can reduce the amount of taxes a person has to pay if they have income from other sources (e.g. W2 income).

This is why, in some cases, the IRS will disallow business expenses exceeding business income by labelling such a venture a "hobby" for tax purposes rather than a true business. Avoiding this generally comes down to showing that you are trying to make your business an actual business, rather than trying to take something you do for fun and make it into a tax write-off.

If it's something you're worried about, ask a local tax expert. Keep in mind, business income or loss is not an itemized deduction, so it doesn't impact whether you will take the itemized or standard deduction. So if the expense is disallowed, you will have to pay taxes (and penalties) on the portion of the "hobby" loss you used to offset other taxes due, but it's not like it'll effect other deductions you take that are not business-related. And you won't have to pay anything you wouldn't have had to pay if you hadn't used the deduction (save penalties or interest).

Also, fair warning on any info I posted, I am a CPA, but I don't work as a tax accountant, so for specific information you should consult a tax expert. :)

Al Stevens
06-09-2011, 03:07 AM
I assume Charlie Parker wasn't a musician because he was always broke?:Shrug:God doesn't need money.

Al Stevens
06-09-2011, 03:28 AM
In the movie, Unforgiven, Saul Rubinek plays a writer. When he tells people he's a writer, they say, "Letters?"

AmsterdamAssassin
06-09-2011, 10:42 AM
In the movie, Unforgiven, Saul Rubinek plays a writer. When he tells people he's a writer, they say, "Letters?"

He's hilarious in that movie.
"You wrote this? The Duck of Death?"
"Duke. It says 'Duke'."
"Duck, I says."

Al Stevens
06-09-2011, 04:38 PM
I've heard all the comebacks to "I'm a writer" when someone asks, "What do you do?" I stopped saying it because it was bothersome dealing with the typical, "What have you written that I might have read?" or "Yeah, but what do you really do?" So I started saying, "I'm a musician," which is also true. That was the same. "What do you play?" "Can you make a living with that?" "What's your day job?" "My uncle was a musician. My aunt says, 'never marry a musician.'"

Now, when I say, "I'm retired," the next question is always, "What did you do?"

It's as if what we do or did to earn our keep defines us in some totally unrelated social situation.

rickee
06-09-2011, 05:58 PM
From Robert Gover (One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding): "Most people have no idea how hard a dedicated writer works at home. And saying "I'm a writer," is something like using the word "engineer" to say you're fixing something at home, or maybe rigging up some kind of machinery."