I've been reading a lot lately, which is good. Becoming a professional copywriter has changed a lot about my life and a lot of the changes have been great. (Seriously, who would complain about being able to eat steak for dinner a little more often.) Others? Not so much. Somewhere along the way, running my copywriting business cost me the voracious reading habit I'd nurtured since I was a kid and that made me a sad panda.
As you know, I've been consciously trying to get back in that habit and I think I've finally reached a point where I have. It occurred to me over the weekend that reading time no longer starts with my being bored and going "I guess I should probably be reading" the way it did for a while. Reading is back to being something I instinctively do a little bit of nearly every time I have the chance. I've been catching myself reading little bits of chapters or articles all the time -- during slow parts of movies or shows, for a few minutes if there's something cooking on the stove that doesn't need my immediate attention, and in between activities.
That's how I know it's officially become a habit again, so I'm happy. I'm actually ahead on this year's Goodreads challenge, instead of abysmally behind as usual. I always set my challenge to add up to about a book a week, so I'm really excited about the probability of finishing for a change. Reading more has meant that I've had an abundance of ideas for my own projects again as well, so also good. (Now if only I could turn art or writing back into a habit as well. A challenge for another time, perhaps.)
I'm not sure where it's been coming from lately, but I've been feeling a bit depressed about the fact that I don't really have any peers to relate to when it comes to serious writing. Oh, I know a lot of people that claim to be writers, but the great majority of them are total hacks. Some are in their damn 30's and still writing nothing but fan fiction. Others are writing their own stuff, but it's absolute drivel that they're either self-publishing or giving away for free. None of them are making any money or attracting any real opportunities, but that's not the depressing part. The depressing part is that they don't care. Posturing on social media and getting the occasional booty pat from their friends or their mommy seems to be enough. That confuses me.
I don't know; I guess I'm just different. I can't imagine wanting to pour so much energy into producing content for other people's consumption, but not actually caring whether or not it's making me any money or helping me to build some kind of future for myself. Maybe the difference is that most of these people can all afford not to care. If their spouse doesn't support them financially, then their parents do or they draw government assistance. They don't have to worry about whether or not there's a market for what they're doing. Me? I really don't have anyone providing for me at this point in my life, so if I don't earn money, I don't eat. Period.
This whole business of being disgusted with the great majority of my writer friends has helped me see copywriting in a new light though. I've noticed that lately I don't catch myself feeling like I'm not as good as other writers because I'm not a novelist, or a poet, or some shit. I have more moments where I actually feel proud of what I do (in a manner of speaking, anyway).
I'm proud because I really am a professional writer. I don't have to pretend people out there care about what I write. I don't just earn peanuts and pity crumbs from selling D-grade self-published crap to my friends either. I make real money -- the kind of money that puts food on the table, puts clothes on my back, and pays for a new computer when I need one. I have multiple important contracts to maintain. Businesses of all types and sizes count on me to give them a voice. I've been learning all sorts of valuable skills and a lot of them extend well beyond writing itself as well -- like marketing, customer service, and negotiation. I'm realizing that none of that is anything to sneeze at, especially for someone that doesn't see herself as particularly ambitious.
I just wish I knew other writers with the same attitude. Writers that are serious enough about what they're doing to seek out real markets for their stuff and that are actually doing well at it. Writers that can give me some good advice or some pointers once in a while. Not a bunch of losers that are happy living in their daddy's basements, self-publishing cheap, uninspired garbage on Amazon or giving away their stuff for free for the rest of their lives.