San Fransisco-based writer Jules Older on the subject of being a hobbyist

Preparation H

Saw an accountant, showed her my recent tax returns. She said, “Hmmm.”

“Hmmm? I don’t like the sound of hmmm.”

“Well, for the past two years, your expenses have been greater than your income. One more year like that and the IRS could declare you a hobbyist.”

Hobbyist. One word that manages to combine my least favorite personal descriptor with my most feared taxpayer status.

Job applications used to routinely ask you for your hobbies. I always proudly answered, “None.” I'm a man with goals and dreams, passions and projects, not hobbies. Real writers don’t do hobbies.

As for status, back when I gave up honest work to become a writer, I discovered the three-year rule. It went something like, If you don’t make more than your expenses three years out of five, you're not a real writer, entitled to claim income-tax deductions; you're a lowly, lowlife, faux-pretend-wannabe writer. “Please use the form, Preparation H.”


“Because, you sir, are a hobbyist.”

Once I began eking out a living from my brain-fingers connection, I stopped worrying about being a hobbyist. And now, this hmmmm-saying accountant was telling me, “It’s baaaack!”

So. My goal, my aim, my early resolution for 2013 is to start making money again.

Check back with me in a year, and I’ll let you know how that worked out.

But in the meantime, call me square, call me dumb, call me late for dinner, but don’t you ever call me the H Word.

— jules 

PS For an example of how I'm spending my time not making money, go to 
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