Writing Soul: True vs. Hobbyist Writers

Currently listening to “Faith on Fire” by Brueske & Bond Families.

exhausted-woman11

So…that “post-a-day” business finally came crashing down this weekend. With everything else that I was doing, it was simply a no-go, but now that things have settled down again for a little while, I’m back to blogging.

This last week was crazy busy with church events and whatnot, so even though I did manage to squeeze a few posts in (confession, the ones for Thursday and Friday were scheduled beforehand >.<), there was just no way I could get posts done for Saturday and Sunday. I did, however, come up with the idea for this post Saturday night.

After a very busy day on Saturday, I ended up going to a youth night hosted by another local church at a skating rink just north of Austin. (Even though BuzzFeed thinks I’m retro, I swear I still count as youth…) I didn’t expect to know anyone there, to be honest, but after failing to convince my cousin or my brother to go with me, I finally decided to swallow my phobia of strangers and go by myself.

I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find not only several acquaintances there, but also none other than my childhood best friend – the inspiration for both Rayne (Star Trilogy) and Shadowraith (Infinite) – who I have not seen or heard from in roughly a year.

We had a nice time catching up while we skated (or, rather, while she skated and I tried not to fall flat on my face, considering it’s been quite a few years since I last put on a pair of skates). We talked about school and work, and eventually I mentioned that I had started working on Infinite, a story she helped inspire.

“Oh, cool,” she said. “I don’t really write anymore. I just read now.”

For those of you who have been following my blog for some time, you might remember me mentioning that while I was still a young teen working on my first book, Random, I happened to get two friends – who were the inspirations for Rayne and Gavin – to start writing stories with me. I considered both of them to be good writers, but neither one still write as of now. And it got me to thinking: what separates a real writer from a hobbyist?

I remember, back when I was taking Narrative Writing in college, that my professor and mentor, Dr. Robinson, told a story about how when he was in college, he had a friend who was a much better writer than Dr. Robinson himself. However, that friend never really put forth a lot of effort to continue writing, and so, in the end, Dr. Robinson was the one who became a published author.

I’m not going to lie. I’ve been accused before of being a hobbyist writer, of “growing out” of writing, and for good reason, as my long absences here on my blog suggest. But the thing about me is that even the thought of not writing terrified me. “Writer” has been my identity for over a decade. Losing that would be like losing myself.

Is writing always easy for me? Absolutely not. There are days (like this weekend, for instance) where it’s all I can do to keep my head on straight. There are days when I’m so exhausted I don’t even want to see a computer, or a notebook, or even a pen, for that matter. There are days where I want to melt in a puddle and wave a white flag of surrender. But I can’t ever imagine a time in my life where I would actually stop writing.

So maybe, in the end, that is what sets apart the true writers from the hobbyist writers. If you can imagine not writing, you’re probably just a hobbyist writer, and that’s OK. Some people only ever have one story they feel they need to tell. Some people write because it’s the best way they have of coping with their current situation in life. To write is, I think, to build character and cope with life. Some people can do that in just a few sentences, some in just a few chapters. And then there are some of us who are just too addicted to quit.

And for what it’s worth, we writers need readers, especially readers who are familiar with the ways in which writing works, to give us feedback and help us grow. I think in that way, it makes hobbyist writers just as important as serious ones.

So if you’ve been struggling with finding the drive to write, or if you’ve been worrying over whether or not you’re actually a “real” writer, think of it this way: if you can’t imagine living without writing, you’re a real writer, so just keep plugging away and have faith that even if you’re struggling now, you’ll grow as you practice. And, if you can imagine living without writing, know that it doesn’t make you any less valuable to the writing community. Your input and support are vital to those of us who can’t give it up, and it may be that somewhere down the road, you’ll find you have a story to tell, too. You might just not know it yet.

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