When did you first consider yourself a professional writer? In the middle of filling out a questionnaire for an upcoming blog tour, that question brought me to a screeching halt. It was something unexpected, and I didn’t feel like it applied to me. A professional writer. Professional. Was I among that list? To me that list includes great fantasy writers like Sanderson, Tolkien, and Rowling. Was that me? Although Kindar’s Cure will soon be released as my debut novel, I didn’t really think so.
I looked up the word. –relating or belonging to a profession. –engaged in an occupation as a paid job –businesslike, conforming to the standards of skill, competence, or character –very competent –doing something habitually.
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For some reason, except for doing something habitually, I don’t feel like I fit those definitions. I haven’t been paid yet, so I can’t judge if I’ll feel professional when the first (small) royalty check lands in my lap. There are no reviews from readers on Amazon or Barnes and Nobles, so I can’t use them to judge if I have skill, competence or character. The fantasy and science fiction writers’ organization doesn’t accept authors who don’t receive advances, so I can’t join their professional group.
Possible modesty complex aside, none of those excuses are the real reason that I don’t feel like a professional. To me the term professional assumes something more than those definitions. It means you treat your skill like a business. You perform it for the gain you receive. It implies a sense of being jaded. But that has never been my idea of writing.
Most writers write because they must, or because they love to surprise readers, or for the thrill of getting a reader reaction to their words and sharing a story. Maybe deep down there is also the desire to be immortal. So feel like a professional—no. To me it’s the thrill of unfolding a story and having it take me to unplanned places. I hope that never becomes old. So no, I don’t think I’ll ever feel one hundred percent like a professional.
What are your thoughts? What does it take to be a professional writer? An agent? A publishing contract? What will tip the scales for you?