Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wasn't I a Writer?

I've been working on my taxes this week, and I can't believe the changes this last year. The biggest change was on that line that identifies my job. For as long as I can remember, the answer has always been "journalist." Until 2008, and my new job description is "teacher." Out of all the money I made in 2008, only $500, earned during the first two weeks of the year, was from writing.

I can't complain. It turns out that my jump from journalism to teaching came at the perfect time. My friends still working at the local newspapers report that their hours have been cut back to 35 hours (or less) a week. When I worked as a full-time reporter, I routinely worked well over 40 hours a week. A cut to even 35 hours, would have meant a loss of a good chunk of my income.

Another thing doing my taxes made me realize -- I haven't had any of my writing professionally published for over a year. This is unheard of. I began writing professionally when I was still in high school. When I was still an undergraduate, I landed a job at a local newspaper. For most of the last 20 years, I have had a byline on an average of 7 articles a week plus I did freelancing and other writing work. In 2008, except for those first two weeks, I didn't write a single thing for publication other than blogging here (which was few and far between) and on my own site.

Could I still claim to be a writer if all I'd written were comments about other peoples' writing?

And then today, I went to my post office, and I found a check. It was from BlogHer, and it was my first advertising revenue from my blog. It wasn't a direct payment for my writing, but it suddenly renewed my pledge for 2009. I am going to write again.

This semester ends May 2, and I will have a bit of last minute things to finish up, but I also have plans. I have that research paper about plagiarism that I want to submit for consideration in an academic journal. And I have my memoir, with approximately 30,000 polished words, waiting for another 40,000 or so.

I am a writer, and I have been sidetracked the last few years with teaching, and I know I no longer want to be a journalist, but I am a writer, and I need to remember writers write, but I am a writer who writes for an audience, and I can't let my audience down.


Serenity Now! said...

Oh yes, you can still call yourself a writer when you're not writing... just the same way you're a mom when you're at work and not actively parenting at that moment!

I'm so glad to hear that you'll be picking up the pen more often because you are also a GOOD writer that I want to read more of. And I want a copy of that memoir!

Kai said...

I second everything Heather said ;)

Linda Sherwood said...

Thanks guys!