Friday, 6 November 2015

Am I Iron Man?

Now that I'm trying my hand in earnest at writing, a few questions have started to pop into my head. I have several RPG products in circulation, a few samples of artwork created using various programs, and now a book. I'm not making a living from all these works, though. They're a hobby - a hobby that pays for itself mind you, but a hobby regardless.


I was asked a question at a social function the other day that I normally have no problem answering, but this time it gave me pause. The gentleman asked me "So, what do you do?" he was referring, of course, to how I make a living. I'm an electronics engineer by trade, working in the biomedical engineering industry. But to be honest, this is just my day job. To some, it might appear as if it was a career. I suppose it is, really.

But it's not my passion. I can't very well say "I'm a gamer!" because that would make him think I wasn't taking his question seriously. I was flush with pride at myself, at the time, from my recent release of my first novel and wanted to turn the conversation to that. So I smugly said "I'm a writer!"

Even as I said those words, I felt a little foolish. I don't make enough money writing (or publishing game books) to quit my day job, and I clearly spend more of my day fixing medical equipment than I do writing, but here I was proclaiming myself to be a writer. The next thing that came to mind was Tony Stark, during the movie Iron Man, when he blurted out "I am Iron Man!"

The more I thought about it, though, the more I actually liked the idea. I was writing. Almost every day, actually. I was enjoying it, and planning to do a lot more of it. As with my game books, I don't do it to make money, I do it for my own personal enjoyment. It sure would be great to be able to quit my 9-5 job and do something like writing fulltime, but that's a long way off from happening. I'm terrible at marketing, for example. I don't like paying for advertisement, I don't like endlessly posting on social media and I find it hard to talk about my work in a professional way (I just get so excited!).

 
I was reading through some other author's blogs, looking for nuggets of wisdom for breaking into the industry (or just about anything really), and stumbled across something that really struck a cord with me. It was on author Ben Bova's website at http://www.benbova.net/ and under the Writing Tips section was a response to a written letter. I won't post the whole reply, but this paragraph sums up what I've been feeling, and why I answered that gentleman's question like I was Iron Man:
Ben, sir, you are a genius (and a bloody awesome writer).

<"The question, "Am I writer?" is irrelevant. The real question is, do you want to write? Writers write. You get up every morning and hit that keyboard. You get the words down and build stories. You might have to do other things to keep groceries in the pantry, but above and beyond everything else, you write."