I actually found this quote first on the blog of fellow writer-in-training Juanita McConnachie, aka Writer’s Block NZ. So I dug into the internet to find out a little more about it. It’s a delightful little quote, one that offers a tidbit of hope out to those of us who are still amateurs on the periphery of the world of writing:
A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.
Of course, there’s truth in there, logically. Nobody who calls him- or her-self a writer started that way by getting paid for it – and that’s what we generally mean by “professional writer”. We all spend time being amateurs, first – people who hone their craft because they love writing. Some of us amateurs will go on to a “professional” career.
Where the quote misses the mark, perhaps, is in suggesting that the mere act of “not giving up” is sufficient to achieving professional status. There will be amateurs who also persist, and despite their persistence never attain to professional status. That’s a sad truth, but it’s still the truth. That sad amateur who persists and fails – it could be me! Time alone will tell that story.
(There will also be amateurs who persist in writing but who have no overwhelming desire to attain to a professional status. I’m not sure if these count as those who did not “give up” or what.)
But there are things amateurs can do to even the odds a little. They can improve their craft and write better, more brilliant prose, for one. There are probably other things that I, as an amateur, don’t yet really know.
Still, I will persist.
Because I believe in my prose, and because I love writing.