Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Musings: April 26 2015

Hello Musers!

Here's to another quiet, relaxing, and restful Sunday and a visit with our Musing Musers.

What's this week's topic? Well, it's one I opened with years ago when Sunday Musings was a magazine column. It's a topic that, at the time and probably stil, hit a few hot buttons.

To overly generalize an amateur is to say they are someone who lacks skill, experience, and are not paid for pursuing a hobby.  A professional can be generalized as someone skilled, experienced, and is being paid for pursuing a career.  However; everyone is capable of an amateur attitude and behaviour just as we are all capable of handling ourselves in a professional manner.

What's professional and what's amateurish?

For the record, I didn't ask...hobbist. This was another sore point twenty odd years ago. Ready for some writers' insight? So am I...let's get musing.


I was going to write a long post for this titled "The Seven Deadly Sins," but then I thought about it and decided it all boiled down to one thing: Attitude. If you have an amateurish attitude about writing and publishing, that's what you are: an amateur writer. Amateur writers don't write, don't edit, don't listen to criticism, give up, and take their ability for granted. Why? Because they don't see themselves as a professional and therefore don't strive to act like a professional.

A professional writer writes when they don't feel like it (though breaks are allowed), they edit, they listen to criticism, they get back in the saddle, and they are grateful (if not fully aware) of their ability. They treat themselves like a professional, therefore... I over-simplifying things?

This is a good question that I want to put a lot more thought into, but my first thought was attitude. Clothes make the man? No. Look at your heart first.

It’s about standards in the end. An amateur does it literally for the love of it while a professional represents themselves publicly as good at what they do and demands payment for it. Either can be “amateurish” in approach. If any of you are involved, as I am, in voluntary work, you will know that, these days, most charities require their volunteers to be trained and kept up to requirements, ie “volunteers but not amateurs”. Neither would we have malpractice suits against paid practitioners in various “professions” if at least some weren’t negligent or incompetent some of the time. I’m not sure what to say of the writing world. Self-regulating to an extent, but anyone can publish anything within reason these days, and the standard does vary! I certainly don't earn much from it, but like to think that I bring professional standards to what I do produce, as I'm sure all my Muser colleagues do too.

J.Q. ROSE, author

The first thought that hit me when I saw the topic of professional vs amateurish is how professional authors react to bad reviews. I think we all know we can't make everyone happy with our stories, but we do submit books which we have worked on and done our best. One person out of 100 may not like that story. Unfortunately that is the one review we focus on and can't forget. However, the pro will let it go without comment. The amateur will respond with snarky comments which may inflame another comment from the reviewer and the two commence to say things that should not be said and especially recorded forever in an online comment section. The pro has learned to let the comments slide off her "tough" skin and appreciate the great reviews even more.

One definition of an amateur is someone who occupies his/her time studying or participating in an activity such as a sport as a pastime, who does not earn money from it.

Another definition is someone, who studies a science such as astronomy as a hobby not a profession.

With regards to the arts I would describe an amateur artist as one enjoys painting for its own sake, and amateur authors as those who enjoy writing, whether they express themselves in a diary or write fiction, non- fiction or poetry for pleasure. However, some artists and authors serve long apprenticeships learning their craft with the intention of selling their paintings or being published.

A professional is, for example, an author whose work has reached a publishable standard and is paid for it.

Thanks for joining us and see you next week!
 If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at

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