Writer’s Desk: But is it a Job?

Thomas Mann; he wrote.
Thomas Mann; he wrote.

In his essay for the Times on whether or not being a writer is a job or not (as opposed to a calling, hobby, or what have you), Benjamin Moser comes down very firmly on the side of, well, maybe.

He knows what it is: Grueling, exasperating, time-sucking, unavoidable.

He knows what it is not: Easy to define or easy to do.

Then there’s this:

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people,” Thomas Mann said; and it is good that no beginner suspects how torturous writing is, or how little it improves with practice, or how the real rejections come not from editors but from our own awareness of the gap yawning between measly talent and lofty vocation. Fear of that gap destroys writers: through the failure of purpose called writer’s block; through the crutches we use to carry us past it.

It gets easier, of course. For some of us, at least. But easy or hard, there is rarely a choice in the matter. As Moser says, writing is simply what one does. Whether or not it’s a job is in the end irrelevant.

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