You Just Might Be a Professional

What's it take to be considered a professional writer? Various authors have bandied the topic about over the years, and I've read a few of their litmus tests, but none of them really ring true to me.

Some believe they're professionals when they start selling their work, actually making money at it. Others argue that it's when you qualify for membership in a professional writer's association and then proceed to submit your work only to pro-paying publications. Probably the simplest definition I've heard is that you're a professional when you act like it. But that's kind of lame. Believe you are a professional writer, and the world will see you as one. Yeah, right.

Maybe the answer is more obvious: professional writers live on their writing. It pays the bills. But how realistic is that? For most of us, if our writing is more than a hobby, we're making maybe enough each year to cover one mortgage payment. Two, if we don't live in Southern California. At a writers' conference I attended a while back, we were told never to quit our day jobs. Good advice -- as long as we don't mind living in a van down by the river.

I'd like to think that someday I'll be a professional writer, but I'm not sure what that will look like. I know I'm not there yet. How about you?
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