Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

Dealing With the "Professional" Problem (or: The Inadequacy of Labeling)

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Label Removal"Professional" is really slippery word.  Folks fight bitterly for the right to be termed a "professional".   My "day job" profession fought for years to be called "technologist" instead of "technician" because it was more "professional".  Fifty Foot Shadows has a great discussion on the concept in the photography world.

Much as Fifty Foot Shadows points out, the term is far from clear-cut.  Here's some real life examples (collected over the last few years) from the writing world.

  • One author told me that he didn't consider any writer to be a professional unless that was the way they made their living.  No day job.  No spouse providing other benefits.  Just writing.
  • One author told me that he didn't consider any writer to be a professional unless they were good enough of a writer to get paid for their work.
  • One author told me that he didn't consider any writer to be a professional unless they acted to a certain code of civil conduct, no matter what they got paid.
Three different definitions, all passionately defended.  All of them deeply flawed.  None of them wrong.

Here is a step-by-step guide to dealing with this problem:
  1. Screw other people's labels and validation.
  2. Define what "success" means to you.  Ignore all others.
  3. Make your goals things that you control.  Things you can't control aren't goals.
  4. Haters exit stage right, pursued by a bear.
Rinse.  Repeat.

1 comment :

Linton Robinson said...

Good one.
Writers do too much wriggling around, "Am I a writer or author", etc.
Don't matter what you call it if you can't cook it.
I have people telling me they are professional novelists because they just put out their first ebook.

When I worked in a jail, the guards wanted to be "professionals".
(I told them, "We have professional killlers in here. Didn't help them much."