Respect the Art of Writing

Monday, July 24, 2017

I had a rough week that I’m glad is behind me. I was hormonal, my side hustle (part-time job) is draining me so much it’s cutting into my writing time, and I’m trying to figure out if I should polish off my resume and start applying for full-time jobs in lieu of freelance life. Plus, I had all these plans to be more productive this summer and back-to-school supplies are already back on the shelves! Need more time!

While trying to gather some perspective, I scrolled through some of the writing e-newsletters that routinely show up in my inbox. In the most recent issue of “Funds for Writers,” penned by author C. Hope Clark, she discusses the topic of trying to figure out whether you should get your satisfaction from writing for reward (notoriety and compensation, for example) or writing for joy.

I feel like I come to this particular crossroads a lot. I’ve had family members say things like “Well, maybe one day you’ll get something published …” and I have to politely explain to them that I’m published at least once a month in local magazines, for pay, even. But because I don’t have a book gracing the shelves of the local bookstores they don’t see it that way. And then I start to think that perhaps they are right—that I’m not a “real” writer because I can’t seem to get off my duff and publish a book.

But then I remember why I started writing in this first place. It was the only way I could make sense of the world. It was how I processed surviving a childhood of moving three or four times a year with my parents. Writing was how I dealt with the highs and lows, and then in college, I realized I could make a career out of telling other people’s stories. I’ve met so many writers over the years. Some write for children, some write for magazines, some write web content, some write poetry, mystery, etc.

I think what we all need to realize (that means, myself, too) is that it doesn’t matter what type of writing we do. Whether we write to earn income, to reach other like-minded people, for our sanity, etc., we need to respect the process. Just as we would respect someone who loves to cook, craft, sew, paint—writing is an art form. It soothes our souls. Not everyone artist makes money from what they create—but it should be respected nonetheless.

Do you respect your writing, or do you downplay what it means to you for others? Share in the comments what it is about writing that brings you joy or peace.

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor whose work regularly appears in regional magazines.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--If I remember correctly (it's been a while since I read it) Jane Yolen's "Take Joy: A Book for Writers" might be helpful or appealing.

You have to write for yourself. If you have writing friends/family members/customers who appreciate your writing, that's like icing on the cake.

(I love the photo, as usual. Do you have a pro take them, or do you have a friend or family member who's talented in that area?)

Writing, for me, helps me make sense of my life. I heal by writing. I relive by writing. I puzzle things out by writing.

Nancy said...

Renee--I was nodding my head when I read the part of your piece about people not considering you a writer unless you have published a book. I have been published many, many times but never had a book published. I consider myself a writer but there are some who don't think you're a writer unless your name is on a book. A shame, as there are myriad writers who write for magazines and ezines, anthologies and more. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us today.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Thoughtful post, Renee, and something that I've been thinking about. I write for the art of it, for the pleasure of creating something and sharing it with others, to share my viewpoint and experiences with the world, no matter the medium--essay, short story, article, post, illustration, comic, etc. Yes, for catharsis. I'd rather write for pleasure and write what I want than for pay and write what someone else wants. If the two meet, then great, but sometimes that's rare.

The thing about book writing is...very few writers make enough to earn a living from it, so why is all the emphasis for success placed on the novel/memoir? I don't know. You make more money freelancing or editing, unless you're a bestselling author with multiple books. I was talking to an author yesterday who spent three years writing her book, had it traditionally published by a small press, and made a whopping $150 in proceeds. I was reading Jane Friedman's blog today and a successful self-published author with a nice-sized following had her publishing costs funded through Patreon, and goes in detail about every aspect of her journey (I highly recommend the read:, and was fairly successful in many ways, but as far as her total royalties and earnings from all her efforts? $800. Or the equivalent of a few freelance articles but multiply the time spent by a few hundred. This business is beyond tough. So, the next time your friends/family members say that one day you'll have a book published, kick some knowledge with them. You are a real writer earning a real living!

Margo Dill said...

I think friends and family members who are not in the writing world seriously have NO IDEA. It's the same thing that I experienced as a teacher when people would say: Well, it must be nice to get the summer off. Yes, it is nice and if we didn't get it off, no one would do this job! ;) (I will not get on my soapbox. I will not!) Anyway, no one means anything by it, but I hate to hear that you were doubting yourself. Even writing for WOW! blog and getting paid makes you a writer. Even if you never get paid or publish anything, if you write on a regular basis, you are a writer. So often we downplay our own accomplishments, it's just how many writers are. But be proud of yourself and know that many of us really look forward to your thoughtful blog posts!

Mary Horner said...

You are a writer, and It's more than the work you do, it's the way you process the world. I understand these feelings, I've had them myself, and I love the way writers help each other recognize our abilities and encourage each other.

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