I am a writer

Tonight I bought a new computer because my old one was capable enough for full-time writing, but apparently not for accessing work email. The guy at Harvey Norman asked me what work I do. I hesitated. I’m a [insert one of my brand new day jobs, which I’ve done for all of a day and a half], I said.

Why did I not say I was a writer? Until two weeks ago, that is exactly how I used to answer the question. I may not be a published writer but I believe in a build-it-and-they-will-come philosophy. I wrote every day. It was the activity that defined my productivity.

With just two weeks of paid work under my belt I find myself suddenly declaring I am something other than a writer. But I still write. It might be just 400 words a night instead of my usual 2000. And publication is still my goal. I still follow writers and agents and publishers and writing competitions on social media. And importantly, I am still studying writing at university.

So why do I feel that paid work trumps writing?

This question seems to be at the heart of how our society values writing as a profession. Only a very small minority of Australian writers are able to be full-time writers, the rest must yearn for the holy grail of a well-paid part-time job. Some are lucky enough to be employed in complementary industries.

Meanwhile my professional life as a writer continues to increase the losses column on my tax return, while my other self, the one I now face the public with, slowly increases the income column.

I want to say what I could not say tonight at Harvey Norman. I am a writer.



3 thoughts on “I am a writer

    1. Thanks, Jennie. I just found it weird that I responded otherwise last night. I guess it’s not only how we value writers, but also unremunerated work.


      1. I totally understand. I told my husband for years that all the writing I do will be ‘proper’ work one day ie it will earn money… but it would be nice not to feel guilty about the lack of money side 🙂


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