Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Do you have a hobby?

Bryon posted tonight about the satisfaction he finds working in the theater. That made me realize how important it is for writers, and parents, and especially writer-parents, to have hobbies - the kind that let you realize the fruits of your labor as soon as you complete the task. Working on a novel, as a freelance writer, and as a parent can leave you among the trees, unable to see the larger forest around you: its size, shape, and most importantly its impact on your (and your children's) lives. You get bogged down in details: what kinds of trees, the way they smell, the way the bark feels, the sameness - and how lost you can feel. Did I tie up all the loose ends in this plot? you wonder. Where is my career going? Where exactly is that fine line between picking battles with my child and giving in to his whims?

I garden as a hobby, meaning I don't dork around with pesticides, soils, weed-killers, or other things master gardeners do. I prune, divide, and water when I have to, mulch if I can afford it, and leave the rest to nature. Meantime, I love working with dirt and even the bugs. Gardening is physical. It engages all my senses, forces me to move and to make decisions that have immediate results instead of farther-reaching repercussions. It gives me back the energy I need to face the toddler who wants to Help (or squirt me with the hose) or the short story in search of an ending. And gardening mistakes are almost always fixable. You can move something if you don't like its location, or wait another season for the overpruned shrub to grow back. Novels and kids often don't bounce back as quickly - or at all - from being cut back too far, or allowed to grow wild.

What's your hobby? How do you engage your body and rejuvenate your creativity?


Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

I chauffeur my kids places...does that count? No.

Okay, SciFi channel because I think it's stupid. I do. I know, just me and five other people in this country think that, but it's true. It makes me laugh. I get great story ideas from watching SciFi channel.

TV watching as a hobby. That's pathetic. I'll come back with something else. Something that will sound good. I...chauffeur my kids other places and along the way, I compose music.

C'mon, Christa, help me out here.

24/3/06 12:28 PM  
Blogger Jean said...

I think I'm struggling with the rejuvenate creativity part. Reflecting on your post and that last sentence, I'll take it as a good thing that I need to do yard work this weekend. I'll make a point to relish it.

So, yeah, yard work helps a lot. I get a lot of satisfaction from executing my exercise plan. Reading has be luring me in more and more this year--I've become addicted to reading. Photography has done it in the past, but I'm not doing much lately. I have been contemplating the idea of learning to paint with watercolors. Maybe this is why.

24/3/06 10:06 PM  
Blogger anne frasier said...

i knit with giant needles
i think that means my hobby is cheating. :D

26/3/06 12:20 AM  
Anonymous Beverlee said...

Hello. I'm new here. I must admit that blogging is my newest hobby. On the other hand, I have reached a point where I accepted that because writing is important to me and I enjoy it, that I should allow time for it.

26/3/06 1:12 PM  
Anonymous Melanie Lynne Hauser said...

I'm a gardener, too! I can't wait until the weather warms up. I also watch Reality TV and read gossip magazines - which makes me such a loser. But you're right, being a writer requires so much concentration and the rewards are not so immediate. It's good to do something mindless, some good, honest, work-with-your-hands activities.

27/3/06 1:43 PM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

Christa, read the flash fiction and now I can't wait to read whatever your book may be. As for hobbies...hmmm...well I run, but more for my heart than a love of the sport. hehe

28/3/06 7:17 PM  
Blogger Christa M. Miller said...

Thanks for the great comments, everyone!

Mindy - the Bunions aren't a hobby?? I think TV can be a habit, esp. if you collect series. ;)

Jean, I totally believe hobbies change along with a person. My mother has gone from knitting to cross-stitch, for example.

Anne? Um, interesting... LOL

Beverlee, definitely make time for blogging/writing. I love blogging's informality in that you can learn how to write for an audience without going through an editor. The better your writing (and marketing) becomes, the more visitors you will attract. Welcome!

Melanie, for shame! :D Just kidding. I watch much more TV than most writers say we should, but ya know... you need the brain break. Also, it's still writing (along with gossip mags) - just in a different form.

Kim, thanks so much for the compliment! Still agent-hunting here (but got enough feedback to do a rewrite that turned out to strengthen my voice so hopefully soon...). I loved running, but I have two blown-out knees - hence the yardwork!

29/3/06 5:01 PM  
Anonymous Kim said...

Okay, I'm building the world's largest published author database...for fun.
Yes, for fun (and because I love marketing and some of my writing buddies claim that writers actually...gasp...hate it).
Lock me up now.
Anne, I know what you're going to suggest.
I tried knitting.
I started the world's ugliest scarf and knitted, and knitted, and knitted...never did learn how to end it (its stuck in a closet somewhere).

7/4/06 9:12 PM  
Blogger Daniel Hatadi said...

Music was my hobby, then writing. Now that I'm putting more energy into the writing with the hope of doing it for a living, my brain froze up when I tried to think what my hobby was.

What is it that I do purely for the fun of it? No financial gain, nothing to show at the end.

Computer games!

Phew. I still have a hobby.

27/4/06 6:36 AM  

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