Ooo-weee! Looks like Nathan Bransford really hit a nerve with his blog post about writing as an identity. Apparently, part of the irritant was his original use of the word hobby to describe the work of writers who aren’t earning a living from their writing. People got so mad Nathan actually backed down on describing writing as a hobby.
Here’s my question: since when is hobby a dirty word? Why do so many writers assume that what they do requires more passion or resolve than what quilters or train aficionados do? Are we back to pretending that we’re ah-tists instead of craftsmen? (Craftspeople, if you prefer.)
As a writer who has given up every other hobby I ever had to pursue writing, let me tell you a little something about compulsions and consuming passions.
In high school, I dated a man whose uncle probably spent half his annual income and all of his free time on refurbishing his collection of 34 1934 DeSotos. (Yes, you read that right. He owns thirty-four 1934 DeSotos.) His goal over the last forty years has been to get 34 with consecutive VINs and to get them all into mint condition, with identical upholstery and identical paint and chrome work. At this point, they are all in driveable condition and he rotates through them, driving a different one each day.
He makes no money off this pursuit, but to denigrate that kind of crazy, obsessive passion as a mere hobby, that’s the mark of self-absorbed, high-horsed ignorance. That’s no mere hobby, that’s a glorious, consuming, whirlwind of a hobby. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Before folks get all het up and feel belittled at having their writing called a hobby, they need to consider whether they’re putting as much time, energy, and passion into their writing as this guy puts into his DeSotos.