Daddy's Christmas Angel

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Are You a Professional Writer?

Writing is hard work. I don't do it for fun nor do I do it for the satisfaction of seeing my name in print.

The exhilaration of viewing my byline on an article vanished long ago after my name had appeared many times on feature articles published in a major city newspaper. Those articles often took weeks to compile after numerous phone calls and research in old books, magazines, and newspapers. I spent hours digging up information for the stories I wrote about people, locations, and events in my rural location in Virginia before I would even start writing. Then I would go to the site and take the photographs necessary to go with the story. My outstanding editor taught me to how to edit, a skill that has aided me in all the writing I have created since that time.

For breaking news and for coverage of local governing bodies, I had to call in and dictate my articles to someone on the state news desk in the city. All of this was done using an electric typewriter without the luxury of instant correction we have now on our computers. Because I wrote for one of those afternoon newspapers that no longer exist, I submitted my stories early in the morning before I left home for my job teaching school.

Although the pay was meager, my writing provided extra funds to enhance our family income. It provided money for trips our family of five might not have taken otherwise.

In addition to the hundreds of stories written for newspapers, I also have written many travel articles including my favorite ones about journeys to the Caribbean islands. Some of these stories have appeared in magazines for airlines and other places. Because I love to relive these often exotic experiences, stories about the islands don't seem quite as hard to write.

Some of my adventures are now turning up between the covers of books. My publisher has labeled these novels, "Passenger to Paradise." A couple of years ago, she designed a logo for them which is the same image I use for my Notes Along the Way blog. I love the logo because I learned long ago to travel light and am often seen pulling my roller bag through the concourses of airports.

Writing novels is a job. I consider myself a professional writer.

If you are an author, don't you consider yourself a professional?

(Passenger to Paradise novels by Mary Montague Sikes include: Hearts Across Forever, Eagle Rising, Secrets by the Sea, Night Watch, and Jungle Jeopardy.)


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I guess I have to now, although a novel is all I've ever written. I admire your dedication all those years, Monti.

jenny milchman said...

I felt I became a professional about one month ago--when after 11 years of struggle, I received an offer on my debut novel. Before that, one of the things I struggled with was the meaning of this term. Thanks for the post.

Monti said...

Thank you, Alex and Jenny, for your comments. As a novel writer, being taken seriously concerns me a great deal. I'm glad both of you realize you are professionals!

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading your post.

Susan Oloier said...

I considered myself a professional writer when I finally was published monthly and paid for it. It was just a personal thing for me, something that had to happen in my mind to cross over from being a writer by hobby to a writer by trade.
Nice post.

Anonymous said...

I consider myself an amateur author, and hopefully I will always be - amateur deriving from the word for 'love', and I want to always love writing even if I start getting paid for it.

I don't consider myself a professional, at this point, and it's not all about the fact that nobody's paying me for what I'm writing. As serious as I am about this avocation and trying to perfect my craft, there's something undefinable missing that I'll have to fit into place before I can give myself that label.

Or maybe it's not that undefinable, and the definition is 'courage.' I'm not sure. :D

If you get a chance, check out a fellow writer's zombie story and help me make him wear an embarrassing shirt next year! Details are here:

Helen Ginger said...

Yes, I do consider myself a professional. You have to if you want others to consider you a professional.