Dreamers, Hobbies, Money and Me

Writers are dreamers, but they also want to make money for themselves.

We all have hobbies, and these might not make us much money, but we love to do them anyways.  Money isn’t the issue in a passion for something we love- it’s the fact we have the time to do it.

There is nothing wrong with having a hobby… Or is there?

I spend a lot of time working with people, and I spend a lot more time seeing what they like.  One of the things I’ve noticed is that most people, given the chance, investigate the concept of “improving  themselves”.  This is even more true when you look inside a bookstore.  I don’t believe there are larger non-fiction sections than either the “Self-help/Well Being” or the Business sections.

Ah, the Business section… It’s broken down into bite sized pieces telling readers how to build your business in 90 days, how to become the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, or how to make a million dollars in the next nine years.  The Business section is for anyone who wants to make money.

And then there are as many “self-help” gurus there as there as there are authors.  There is also a drive to make money and to prove yourself to others.  It’s as if the world wants to tell us to stop being dreamers, stop with hobbies, and make that money now.

Two of the smaller sections in most bookstores I’ve been in are the hobby section (often spread out to seem bigger than the 30 or so books there) and the writing section.  I don’t think there is a lack of interest in these subjects, but rather a lack of demand to be a dreamer or to have a hobby.  There aren’t too many people who admit to having a hobby which doesn’t not in some way give them an income of some sort.

It’s sad when a person has to justify joy in their lives.  It’s sad when the only reason to have a hobby is so that you can make money.  As a writer, this is even more true.  Writing takes a lot of time, and you need to have a creative side and, should you want to continue to write, you need to publish your work — something, somewhere — to justify it to others.

This is why the business and self-help sections grew so big.  We are constantly looking to justify the joy we find in writing, in the process of creating something we can share with others.  We justify buying books so that we can improve ourselves, but we don’t buy books that will improve our writing — and if we do, we say it’s because it will help us to make money with our hobby.

Or… is it because we are scared to simply do something that we love and not make a penny on it just because we can’t admit that we want to do this?

One Comment

  • Damaria Senne

    Hi Rebecca

    You say: "It's sad when the only reason to have a hobby is so that you can make money."

    This statement resonates with me so much! One of my hobbies is gardening, and I grow a lot of seasonal flowers to try to create a happy environment for me and my family. The garden also inspires me in my writing, which for me is the business. My challenge is that a lot of the people in my village don't understand my flower thing. Many people have suggested that I start a cut flower business (these flowers are so pretty! You should sell them to market a or market b) and look very puzzled when they I explain that I don't want to start a cut flower business. And even more pertinently, I don't know anything about the cut flower business and have no intention to learn. To them, growing flowers for pleasure means I'm losing the opportunity to make money. So I end up justifying myself; explaining that I already use my gardening hobby for something useful: I grow almost 70% of the vegetables we consume, and have a year-round garden. The veg garden also gives me pleasure, but it's a pity that I also have to use it to justify the flowers.
    As a side note, I do understand that money is tight for most households in my community and all over the world, and being able to have a hobby that doesn't pay for itself is sometimes a luxury some people don't have. So for them, it's hard to swallow that I could sit with what they perceive to be an opportunity to alleviate financial challenges, just because can. So usually I just explain that starting a cut flower business is not feasible for me: i already have a demanding writing business and don't have the capacity to start another business from scratch and learn the ropes while trying to make it viable.