Over the years I have developed a variety of interests. Some to the extent of being hobbies, and others just because I like learning facts. Sometimes I'll get bored with a particular interest and not touch on it for months or even years. But eventually I always seem to end up back with them again.
Unlike many people though I have very little interest in developing those hobbies/interests into any sort of job. This seems to run counter to the way many people think. Why not get paid for doing what you enjoy, instead of something you just have to do because you need the money?
Some of those skills are in fact of a quality that could get me a job. The computer ones did: I've worked training people to use MS Office in the past. I've also built websites and designed Databases. My writing skills are certainly good enough to write paid articles for blogs.
Some could easily be developed into job level skills: programming and systems administration are well within my range if I was to apply myself. I could almost certainly refine my photography and writing sufficiently to attempt earning some money (though not a living) there too.
And yet I do none of those things. I remain, by choice, a perpetual amateur.
But why? Why not spend all day doing some of the things I enjoy and getting paid for it?
Perhaps I'm some sort of throwback? There was a time when gentlemen (who didn't have to work because they were... you know... gentlemen) would study all sorts of things. Modern economies don't really allow anyone the time to do that so we become more and more specialized in our knowledge and training.
Perhaps I'm lazy? After all making any sort of money out of photography or writing is really, really, really hard work.
Am I too scared? There are substantial risks to betting your life and your families on a new direction without a reliable salary to back you up.
All of those may be true, but they aren't the main reason. It's actually much simpler than that. Any time I have to do something for money it sucks the fun right out of it for me. Suddenly I can't set my own schedule. I can't switch to a totally different project at a moments notice. I am obligated to other people. So while I actually enjoy the challenge of removing spyware from people's computers, I have no interest what so ever in relying on it to earn an income.
Quite simply I love the freedom that being an amateur gives me. There are a lot of negative connotations to the word amateur these days, but people should look more at the positive side of it. For writing, I don't have to worry about what is popular or even if anyone else is interested in the subject or if anyone will buy it. I just write it. Only an amateur can do that.
Even this blog post is an example of the advantage of being an amateur. I am participating in a fiction project, but I just haven't felt a spark in the last couple of days. So I just change directions for a day and write this instead. No one is relying on my writing and if I feel more enthusiastic I will jump right back on board tomorrow.