I had one of those conversations this morning where I got teased for the 500th time about something. I laughed the first 499 times, but I didn’t laugh this time, because it just wasn’t funny anymore. I like to think I have a pretty good sense of humor, but sometimes my ability to laugh at myself backfires, and I end up feeling disrespected.
That happens occasionally to all of us, but it’s particularly common when we aren’t honoring ourselves and what we do. Too often we downplay or even denigrate our work. “Well, it’s not brain surgery,” we’ll say. And that’s true (except for those of us who are brain surgeons, but I’m thinking they probably don’t downplay their skills the way the rest of us do). But even if our work isn’t brain surgery (or whatever we think is amazing and worthwhile), that doesn’t mean it lacks value. Being a good writer is at least as valuable as being a good plumber, and we know how important plumbers are.
One of the ways you can show respect for your profession is to treat it like a profession. Nora Roberts, who publishes four or five best-selling novels each year reports [not specifically to me, but in published interviews] that she writes in her office from 9-to-5 every day, just like any other person with a job. She believes that her writing is a business and she has to treat it like a business. So just because she’s had a string of best-sellers, she doesn’t kick back and drink daquiries under the palm trees. She respects her profession and treats it seriously. I’m pretty sure she never says something like, “It’s better than a real job,” because it is a real job.