am.a.teur, n. A person who does something because he enjoys it, rather than for money.
Recently, I went through a period of introspection that led to a major reorganizing and re-prioritizing of my life. Several of my friends and some family members seem to be going through the same thing--in real life, and online. Maybe it's the new year's time of contemplation and goal setting, or maybe it's just age--seems like those I know who have been going through it are of "a certain age" (40's through 50's) or else are rapidly approaching that age group. I've watched a dear friend struggle with depression for several months because she's almost 40, never been married, and is afraid she's run out of time to have a family of her own. She's a beautiful, intelligent, well-educated, well-travelled woman whom I admire, and has been successful in her career, yet she's questioning what she's been doing with her life.
Whatever their reasons for it, a number of people around me seem to be asking the same question I asked myself: is what I've been doing worth it?
Stewart also posted about this feeling lately, and I must apologize to him if my comment was condescending. Who am I to say what he should be doing with his time? Only he knows that. Of course, I'd hate like crazy if he gave up writing because he's so darned talented and I love reading his work, but that's the crux of it. Is talent enough reason to keep doing something if your other values in life indicate you should go elsewhere? What about disappointing others?
My brother is a very talented artist and I badger him from time to time about not doing more with it. Why is he wasting his gift, I wonder? His answer: he does it only up to the point when it stops being fun and starts to feel like work. He is truly an amateur--he does it for the enjoyment, and once in a while gives the world the gift of his talent. Does he really owe it to anyone to do more? I'd like to say yes, but that's selfish. It's a loss for me, but not for him--when he creates when he enjoys it, but he's also got his own priorities and I can't argue with that.
People also tell me to do more with my own artwork and writing, but I don't take the time--other things have to come first right now. I don't think that makes me less of an artist--it currently makes me more of a mother. It also doesn't make me a professional, but I'm still an amateur and I see nothing wrong with that.
So what about you? If you never made a(nother) dime on your writing, would you still write?