Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Rejoice--I am not a professional writer

Let the universe rejoice! Let be known that I am not a professional writer! I am not even a hack!

And how did I learn this? By taking a quiz. The quiz is by Lisa Morton and is on the Horror Writers Association LA article page. For those who just want to see the questions, here they are:

1. Is your home/work place messy because that time you’d put into cleaning it is better spent writing?
2. Do you routinely turn down evenings out with friends because you need to be home writing instead?
3. Do you turn off the television in order to write?
4. Would you rather receive useful criticism than praise?
5. Do you plan vacations around writing opportunities (either research or networking potential)?
6. Would you rather be chatting about the business of writing with another writer than exchanging small talk with a good friend?
7. Have you ever taken a day job that paid less money because it would give you more time/energy/material to write?
8. Are you willing to give up the nice home you know you could have if you devoted that time you spend writing to a more lucrative career?
9. Have you done all these things for at least five years?
10. Are you willing to live knowing that you will likely never meet your ambitions, but you hold to those ambitions nonetheless?

Given that Morton believes that you need to answer yes to all ten (but is willing to give you some slack for eight or more), the people who know me will instantly see how I do not qualify by her standards. Of course, my biggest problem with the whole quiz is that she wrote it after being disappointed in a discussion group where no one actually talked about writing (which describes every writer discussion group I have ever encountered).

Here are my answers:

1. No, I just generally have a high tolerance for dirt. And some of my best bouts of cleaning are when I am struggling with something I am writing, and need to do some heavy thinking about it. I guess that if you are working on your writing, then you never actually clean anything. Damn food service habits bite me in the butt again (that is where I picked up my high tolerance for dirt, and the habit of thinking while cleaning).

2. No, and no. My schedule includes time to be with people because I slowly go crazy if I do not talk with people on occasion. (Again, let's blame that one on food service--I could blame it on being the oldest of eight kids, but that would just be too harsh.)

3. And miss my shows?! Hell, no. I write during commercials...occasionally.

4.  I have very seldom actually met useful criticism or honest I have no clue how to answer that one. I guess that makes it an no.

5. Does anyone remember the last vacation that I took? For the last seven years that I worked food service, I did not take a vacation. And now, I can't afford one...but I couldn't afford one while doing food service, so not much has changed. I never planned my vacations around writing and research--no, I dealt with my family instead. So no...unless one considers my extended time out of the work force as an extended vacation, in which case--no.

6. No. No. Oh, hell no! Honestly, I find that talking to other writers (who are not my friends) to be terribly tedious. And quite often, a complete waste of time. As for my friends (writers and otherwise), writing is just one of the many things that we talk about. I am fond of talking about cats, witchcraft, and Doctor fact, these topics trump talking about writing.

7. I have worked food service all my adult life...therefore, I have no idea how I could take a lower paying job than that. So I have to answer no...unless being unemployed counts--and I doubt that it does.

8. A more lucrative career?! Considering that I spent my entire adult working life in food service and the fact that I was a high school dropout (until I was forty), I guess that giving up writing erotica for the glamorous world of drug dealing is what the lucrative career is. And I was never going to have a nice home as a high school dropout, so by default, this one is an no. You can't answer yes to a question that does not actually allow for a yes to be given.

9. Yes, I am still the same person that I was five years ago. But considering that all my answers are no's, this is technically also an no, isn't it?

10. Ambition?! I have it on the best of authorities that I have no ambition. And being realistic, I have no high hopes for my writing career. For god's (and goddess's) sake, I write erotica and other low-brow stuff. I am not going to be Stephen King or J. K. Rowling. Or even a literary writer like my sister. And I might not even be entertaining. So again, this is a technical no.

So that gives me ten big f***ing indications that I am not a professional writer. That should make a lot of people happy. Including Lisa Morton. Good thing that I do not have an union card because it would have to be ripped up.

But here is the twist. By IRS standards, I am a professional writer. I have to pay self-employment tax. I paid it last year; I have to pay it this year; and even if I quit writing right now, I will have to pay it next year. The one question that Lisa Morton does not ask is whether or not, you are actually making money as a writer. But I guess in her universe, that question does not matter. So rejoice that I am not a writer. And someone please go convince the IRS that I am not a professional writer, so I do not have to pay them any more taxes.

1 comment:

Alia said...

Of course, by John Scalzi's standards you are indeed a professional writer. And many more people recognize him as a writer and respect his judgment on the matter than care about Lisa Morton's opinion on the matter. So, sorry, you don't get to use her description of monomania to duck out.