Amateur Label Is Too Limiting

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When this word came up in the random word selection, I had a fairly strong reaction to it.  I left the word in (sometimes I redo a random choice if the word is too strange or too ordinary), but spent some time considering why I didn’t like it.

There are two definitions to the word amateur:

  • A person attached to a particular pursuit, study, or science as to music or painting; especially one who cultivates any study or art, from taste or attachment, without pursuing it professionally.
    She is an accomplished amateur woodworker.
  • Someone who is unqualified or insufficiently skillful.
    The entire thing was built by some amateurs with screwdrivers and plywood.

It doesn’t bother me to be labeled as someone who pursues a passion without beind paid.  But it really bothers me that the word amateur is mostly used as someone who is lacking skill.  And that seems to be the primary use of the world.

Maybe that’s rightfully so.  The line between being paid or not being paid is pretty small these days.  Most writers and professional photographers make very little money and are lucky to cover their expenses.  For others, such as myself, we work a day job but would hardly be considered a unqualified or insufficiently skillful.  When I’m at the botanical gardens, I see a lot of weekend photographers with some serious equipment.

So how to better describe myself?  Serious amateur?  Passionate writer and photographer?  Professional?  I have made some money with writing and photography.  Not much, but how much do I have to make to be a professional?

Hmm. . . . even with thinking this over and looking at some options, I’m not sure.  On the other hand, is a label even necessary?  Nobody’s asked me so far.  In fact, people are so impressed that I have a blog and take pictures, the question doesn’t even come up.  I guess it doesn’t need to come up now either.

© 2011 dogear6 llc

Word for tomorrow – THWART.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.