Tuesday, January 8, 2008


The APG-L mailing list (Association of Professional Genealogists) has been discussing what defines a professional, and what to call a non-professional.

Just because someone doesn’t get paid, doesn’t mean the quality of their work is amateurish. Some people don’t like the connotation of the term ‘hobbyist’, though denotatively, all it means is one doesn’t get paid. 'Avocational' has been suggested. It’s denotation is identical with hobbyist, though since it is used a lot less, it hasn’t developed a negative connotation in some minds.

Note: “Denotation” is the literal meaning, the dictionary definition, and ‘connotation’ is the positive and negative emotions that are usually associated with the word. For example, both of the words “denotation” and “connotation” have erudite associations connected with them. Whether erudition is positive or negative depends upon who you are. ‘Avocational’ is also erudite, in my opinion. Hobbyist works for me. Genealogy Hobbyist.

I considered suggesting Armchair Genealogist briefly, though that’s not the exact meaning required. (“Remote from active involvement”) It would, though, have a very useful application. Those genealogists who remain glued to the chair in front of their computer. I’ve done a lot of that sort of genealogy, but I haven’t limited myself to it.

Someday I would like to be a professional author. I have published a handful of poems, and one work of short fiction, for money, but my total income is miniscule. I also received some money for performing my poetry, once, but it is still on the level of a hobby. However, while I aspire to be a professional, I never expect to make my sole income from writing fiction or poetry. Very few authors do. That doesn't mean they aren't professionals.

I am a professional writer (not an author) as I get paid to write grant proposals for a local non-profit. However, if I am in a smart-alecky mood, I will often refer to my job as professional beggar, or I’ll use the Yiddish term, ‘schnorrer.’ I’m begging for the benefit of others, and not for myself, but it is how I make my living.

I am an armchair blogger, but few bloggers blog anywhere else.

1 comment:

Terry Thornton said...

HA! Spoken like a true HOGS BLOGGER! Here I sit in my armchair blogging a response! LOL!