Earlier this week one of my friends – a fellow author – posted a status update on her wall that is all too familiar to anyone who runs in our circles. The lyrics vary, but the tune remains the same… “You should get a real job”. In this particular case, my friend had made the cardinal sin of posting a status along the lines of “I wish I could get one of these…”. This post was innocent, one of many and of the type that I post often. On this particular day though, one of her friends read this post and immediately took it as an open invitation to voice an opinion.
Had the opinion been “Me too”, then this would be a vastly different blog post.
No, this friend took it upon themselves message her with the advice that perhaps she should stop hanging out at home with her young daughter and “get a real job” and as for that “writing” thing that she does… well, if she had a “real job”, then she would have the money for things that she wanted. So if she would just “get a real job”, she wouldn’t have to wish for things.
I’m going to give you a moment to decide if you’re as outraged as we were or if you’re ok with that. If you’re ok with that… I would suggest that you stop reading here and move on.
Still with me? Well, then you can imagine that my friend had a response that was less than calm. She has been fortunate enough to have a loving husband who is more than happy for her to remain at home with their toddler. Her writing career, while hardly bringing in enough to retire on, is growing and while they’re not wealthy, they are happy, healthy and doing ok. If she wants to say “I wish” about a luxury item, that’s her right and none of your business! Would she have suffered the same treatment if she had been working full-time and said the same thing??
Of course, motherhood is one of the hardest jobs on the planet as was proved by this great video, so I won’t go into that.
What I’d like to address today is the fact that so many people look at authors and say that what we do is not a real job. Don’t even get me started on my job! A lot of what I do takes place in the digital world, via email or on social media and this immediately makes a lot of people around me assume that I’m not really working.
After all, who gets paid to be on Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube? ME! Me and hundreds of other people who know how to use social media for more than just catching up with friends and family and
cyber stalking supporting our favourite celebrities.
Only someone who has never written more than an email could possibly think that writing a novel is not work. Considering that many people would agree that mental work is often more exhausting than physical labour, why would those same people say that writing isn’t taxing? Is it because we enjoy writing? Well, if you enjoy being an accountant, does that mean that you don’t have a “real job” either??
Writing is not a hobby or something we do to kill time. It is something we are passionate about, something we invest hours, days and weeks in and something that we hope one day to be able to earn a living at. We spend incalculable numbers of hours in research, writing, revising, and then promotion and marketing. Most of us do this while holding down a day job which pays our bills, but every now and then, one of us will be afforded the opportunity to pursue our chosen career full time and believe me… we do NOT waste that time.
My advice in this situation comes from my dear Mom… “If you don’t have anything nice to say, rather say nothing at all.”
And to the person who had the nerve to offer this advice to her… If my friend had wanted an opinion on her wish, she would’ve asked for one. And believe me… between raising a toddler and working on her latest novel, she is working plenty hard enough to satisfy even your high standards.
What do you think?
Until next time…