In the past weekend, my blood pressure surged on two separate occasions. I was asked the one question writers hate. I was asked it twice by two different people at two different times. I was asked if I am going back to work.
Now, I understand that it may seem to everyone else that I am doing nothing. Typing away on the computer by myself is totally invisible to the rest of the world. Researching a completely new industry and setting myself up as a freelancer is time-consuming, yet not immediately profitable. Writers these days need to have an online platform, regularly update social media and have their own networks. That is on top of writing short stories, flash fiction and the hefty novel.
However, I have told these people that I want to be a writer. Maybe I haven't stressed enough that it is what I am going to do. Full stop.Writing is what I love and will strive to do, even if I never make a decent wage from it. I have not made any money from writing as yet. But that doesn’t bother me or my husband in the slightest. So it really shouldn’t bother anyone else.
This dismissive attitude towards the writing profession appears to be symptomatic of a larger problem in this country. The problem is that the arts are not taken seriously as a career. The arts aren't even taken seriously as an industry. There is very little in the way of funding for literature. Creative people are turning more and more to crowdfunding to get their projects funded.
There is a huge market internationally for web content in English. Businesses require content for their internet landing pages or for company blog articles. However, some writers are writing web content for very cheap rates or even for free. And when there is free labour available, why would a corporate choose to spend money on someone else?
It is frustrating trying to break into a new industry without any experience. It is just the same as any industry in that people won't hire you if you don't have experience or exampes of work. Hang on, but I need someone to hire me so that I can build up my portfolio! (Gotta love that old merry-go-round...)
But I have recently realised that there is actually no point doing something every day if you don't love it. It took several thousand earthquakes and a year living in France to shake me out of the humdrum. I can write how I want and when I want. Sitting outside in the fresh air on a beautiful autumn morning is the perfect way to start a Monday.
So that is why I will stand up and say I am a writer. And I may even put it on application forms now and then. Just don't ask me when I'm going to get paid.