This coming January, I will have been writing as a freelancer for six years. It's an accomplishment, to be sure. Of course, when you consider the time you've spent and the efforts you've put into something like a writing career, you can't help but judge a little (or even a lot). For me, there have been a long list of expectations and some dreams wrapped up with being a writer. I've set goals and nurtured my share of aspirations. I've paid a few dues too. I've been keeping my eyes open for progress, the issuing of new benchmarks, the attainment of some dream. Some of this thinking could be summed up by how I am currently defining the professional writer.
Not A Standard
I have little room to comment in depth on what is taken as the standard for professional writer by other writers or those in publishing. All I have is my own perspective. What matters most to me is how I define professional to myself. Professional is something of a fluid term anyways. I could say that simply by making money at my craft and having satisfied customers is enough for me to be a professional. Then there are those who would add to professional the obvious ways that a writer does business. Doe he meet deadlines? Is he prompt with communications with clients? Does he deliver on his promises? I've had varying degrees of success with these criteria.
Still, I continue moving, continuing making progress in a particular direction, getting more words down and hopefully improving. I say that I a professional writer, willing and able to deliver to professional markets. I say it, but I sometimes have trouble believing it. I know most writers feel this way some of the time.
There is so much going on right now in the world of publishing, the world where I want to take a place by being a published author, a novelist, and a nonfiction writer too. I've done that in the new world of publishing. I've co-written two books with three more on the way. Another novel is one that I have hoped to bring into print for a while now.
With all of that in play you are probably wondering why I am going on about defining professional. I sort of agree with you to a point. Yet I remember my own words about professional being fluid and I start looking for areas of my career that need to be improved. What am I talking about?
First, I have to say that I let other people into my creative space too much. I let their opinions or expectations affect what I'm trying to do. I decide what to write based on what other people consider a good option rather than whether I am passionate about it. Of course, in some cases, I have promised to help other tell their stories and that is important. I know that. The trick is doing that while also doing the stories that I love...finally.
I am a professional writer. I hope I am lucky enough to do this for a while to come. I hope I meet more goals and improve the strength of this career path. I am doing what I can to learn more and to take responsibility for the shape of my own writing career. That is the mark of professionalism that I want to focus on the most.
Maybe those of you reading agree or maybe you don't. I am being true to myself and look forward to having more fun writing!