August 6th, 2013


Poisonous Tripe

Normally I’d just let this go as another case of bad advice on the internet, but then I saw a comment by somebody that said they read it and felt bad.

So, let’s just get this out of the way…

This is a quiz posted on the blog of the Horror Writers of America, purporting to tell you whether or not you are a professional writer or just a “hobbyist.” It has incited some comment among various authors, few of those comments kind.

The author was apparently inspired to write this after the author—I quote—”recently stumbled into a discussion group of people who I thought had called themselves professionals, but their conversations revealed them to be hobbyists. They chatted about health and told jokes and moaned about personal problems…anything, in other words, but writing careers.”

(One shudders to think what would be revealed if other authors knew that I am on a discussion group that talks about bugs and native plant gardening! Shhh! Don’t tell anyone!)

The quiz has ten questions. I answered nine of them “No” and the other one (number 4) is an “I suppose I’ll say yes in an eat-your-vegetables sort of way.”

Apparently I am a hobbyist. Incidentally, according to the latest statement, book one of Dragonbreath sold 131,000 copies. (I could go on in this vein, but I’d really rather not, because…err…bragging, raised Catholic, will be hit by a bus and deserve it, etc.) I am even, at this brief, trembling moment in time, reasonably confident of achieving my goals, because my goals are the relatively simple ones of “make neat books people like to read and make enough money doing it to live comfortably and then go out in the garden and possibly travel occasionally.”

And also I would kind of like a bulldog after the beagle finally dies of old age. May not achieve that one. I’ve come to terms with it. But I love their smooshy faces and they’re low energy and considered just as stupid as beagles according to the AKC, and I don’t think I can handle another smart dog. The border collie judges me. A lot. A lot more than someone who eats cat poop has a right to judge.

What was I talking about?

Ah, yes.

Anyway, if you read that quiz and thought “Oh god! I have to do this/not do this/never talk to my friends about anything but writing careers/not go on vacations for fun/not live in a nice house/not leave background TV on”—please, don’t.

This is pernicious and poisonous tripe. This serves no purpose but to make people who aren’t grimly self-confident feel bad, and make people who are grimly self-confident feel tired. If you read this and suffered a moment of angst, don’t.

You write, you’re a writer. You get paid to write, you’re a professional writer. If you aren’t a professional writer and you think of yourself as one anyway, the damage to me is surprisingly minimal.

And all I want to know is—do professional accountants get this kind of crap?


Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.


Best. Thing. Ever.

There is a baby hummingbird in the garden.

I can tell it’s a baby because it has the remains of a fluffy gray cap and I don’t think hummingbirds have taken to wearing wigs. It’s a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, that being the only species that breeds out here. (Incidentally, this brings our fledgling count of the year up to a dozen, which is leaps and bounds past anything we’ve ever achieved in the garden—just an incredible year. I am still not sure if this is because the garden is getting older and has a better carrying capacity or if the rains led to a mosquito explosion that fed zillions of fledglings, but just—amazing year.)

As I watched, the fledgling hummingbird fed off the scarlet runner-bean flowers adorning the deck, and shoved its beak deep into one particular carmine flower.

Which came off.

On its beak.

Suddenly the hummingbird is zipping around in a panic with GIANT HEAD-SIZED RED FLOWER STUCK TO MY FACE AAAAAAHHHH GET IT OFF GET IT OFF GET IT OFF while I laughed like a hyena on nitrous. Fortunately the flower fell off within a second or two, much to the bird’s relief (and mine, since once I stopped laughing, I’d have had to figure out how to help the bird, and that would be a mess.)

There is pretty much nothing that can top that ever today, so I’m gonna go get coffee.

Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.