A Vocation or Avocation?

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How we think of ourselves can determine how others think of us.  Our attitude affects our demeanor, and that in turn affects how others respond to us.

What does this have to do with writing? I believe respecting our right to be serious about our writing can determine whether we become known as word dabblers, hobbyists or career writers. (If you’re content to dabble I’ll jump in here to defend your choice because I realize not everyone intends to write full time.) But so often we make excuses for what we do… apologize for the time we spend closeted away with our computers or pen and paper, as if our pursuit is frivolous or perhaps even sinful.

I’ve heard writers claim that it wasn’t until they received payment for their work that they began to take themselves seriously. (Okay, I’ll admit I’ve said that!)  It wasn’t until they considered writing a legitimate form of employment that they felt entitled to set aside a formal workspace, and claim the right to uninterrupted work hours.

As a hobby, writing can be relegated to the leftover moments in our lives, but if it is to be more than that, we have to treat it like the commitment it is, and write… guilt free.

If someone provided you with a homecare worker and an uptown office on the condition that you write there at least four hours a day, would you feel more like “a real writer” than when you sit at the kitchen table and write during junior’s naptime? What does that say about your attitude?

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14 thoughts on “A Vocation or Avocation?

  1. Judith Robl says:

    It wasn’t until I had a contract in hand and a deadline that I could make my family realize that writing was a “real” job. It was simply something I had always done. Since the publication of my first book (which implies there are others in the works) , I don’t have to fight quite so hard for uninterrupted writing time. But sometimes it still is a struggle.

  2. lauradroege says:

    I’m the person who wrote the 1st draft of my novel during my newborn daughter’s 3 hour naps; took an entire year, but I when I finished that draft, I felt like a writer. I knew I could complete the novel!

    That’s probably one reason that I bristled when someone said, “Oh, what a nice little hobby!” (This was right after she said that the book had a happy ending, all because the couple didn’t get a divorce. Um, their daughter dies of suicide. Not happy ending.) But I feel like a real writer and I think of myself as such, even if I have to snatch minutes writing while I’m in the carpool lane or allergist’s office or waiting for VBS to finish up. (I wrote yesterday’s blog post sitting in the back of a sanctuary with a hundred-plus kids screaming.)

  3. I totally agree with this post. The choice has to come from within us. I started writing totally committed several years ago, and about the time I got going life stepped in. I was derailed for a few years, but in January I reclaimed my writing life. Not everyone was real happy about that, but so far, all is well.

  4. Dave Ebright says:

    My first rule is never take myself seriously. I write books, make money from the sales & rarely mention any of it to anyone (no one in my racket would believe it anyway). I will say this – that guy in the picture – his shirt is awful. (He’d get beat up around here!) Also, no one wears a hard hat sitting at a computer – &, speaking as one who wears a hard hat for my big boy job – hard hats need to be beat up lookin’ & if you’re on the management side, they have to be white (& still beat up ’cause sometimes ya hafta throw ’em or slam ’em when you’re yellin’).

    Sorry – Had to tease you about the pics.

  5. joylene says:

    Good question. I not think too much about how important my writing is, it just is. I am who I am, and that’s all that I am. I’m Popeye the Sail– oops, Sorry, I got carried away.

    • Joylene, I’m wondering if after you’ve been writing for many years you take its importance in your life for granted, without even bothering to wonder what others think of your passion. Maybe I should have had a poll accompanying this post, asking how many years people have been writing.

      • joylene says:

        You’re probably right, Carol. And I notice I can’t type. I meant DON’T, not NOT. Shish. I think I’m too stressed over hockey to take anything else seriously. LOL. Boy, they better win or I’ll be … not sure, except I’ll be mighty upset. Me and a few million others.

  6. Good morning, everyone. You were up and at ’em earlier than I was on this big Stanley Cup Final game day. (“Go, Canucks, Go!”)

    Judith, Laura and Carol, you obviously have a different attitude about your writing than Dave! Sometimes I think Dave doesn’t take anything seriously, but that’s just his misleading exterior. BTW Dave, sorry about the shirt, but you have to realize those photos are purely symbolic. 😉

  7. I still struggle with this, even though I’ve got my debut novel out this year. Writing is such a huge investment in time, and each day I ask the Lord if He wants me to use those valuable minutes, days, years, in this pursuit, or if He wants me to do something else. But each time I ask, He always does something to encourage me to persevere.

  8. Amen, Christine!! Always stay encouraged and Keep on Writing People!! carla

  9. I’ve had to fight for every moment spent on writing my manuscript. I was a caregiver for my husband (since deceased). I started my manuscript during that time. I worked in an office a few hours each week to pay bills, while others filled in for me at home, squeezing in my writing while my hubby slept. After his death, I got up at 4:00 am to work on my novel (using a manual typewriter) before going to work on my job. I soon remarried, and for a long season, I simply had to put it away. I almost discarded it, but instead, I took it up again two years ago.

    I don’t see the work on my manuscript as a hobby. I must become skilled in the techniques of a novel writer, if I wish to bring my manuscript to maturity. It’s a challenge that draws me. Yet, I must decide whether I will again dive into this project. I respect the craft of writing. During this season of my life, I am a wife and caregiver first and foremost. Perhaps I’m not a writer. Perhaps during the next season of my life, should there be one, I will be a writer by definition. Blessing to you, Carol…

  10. Thanks for this post, Carol. I’ve had alot of quiet time this week while visiting my parents. Nice having time away from job and other family obligations! And I’ve definitely decided that writing is more than a hobby for me – – it won’t fit into the leftover moments of life. I must let go of guilty feelings for spending time writing. I’ve started outlining my book! And I’m going home with a new attitude. My poor hubby….should I warn him before I come back ? 🙂 Thanks again!

  11. Christine, if God didn’t want you to use your writing is this way I think you would have hit roadblocks preventing publication. His will is hard to ignore when you look for it. 😉
    Thanks for the pep talk, Carla. We all need that! Well, maybe not everyone. Brooke sounds determined.
    It sounds like your writing ambitions have already been revitalized, Brooke. Understanding what place writing has in our lives is a first step.
    Carol Ann, I admire how clearly you see your situation and accept that you have to work around it to accomplish your writing. You may not be finding time for your novels, but your beautiful poetic writings from the soul are blessing many people online. That may be the writing you’re meant to be doing during this season of your life.

  12. […] Carol J. Garvin had a post in her blog last week about whether writing was a vocation or avocation.  Well for me, it's been years of avocation, but I, like her example, couldn't justify spending too much time indulging my hobby, my fantasy world. After all, it stole precious moments away from my kids and hubby, my friends, and even activities at my church. How could I be okay with that?Read more » […]

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