Finding My Way Through This Writing Life: A New Hobby

In 2005 I started getting more serious about writing than I ever had in my life. I began working on a few stories that had been wandering around in my brain for a while. I would get up early so I’d have an hour to write before work. I’d spend most of my lunch hour writing, sitting at the park with a tablet of paper propped against the steering wheel in my little Cavalier when it was too cold to venture outside. It was all me, writing in my own little world. No audience. No one else to judge or criticize the work. It was a great time of exploration and wonder.

Then in 2007 I got even more serious and gave up the corporate job for (what was supposed to be) a smaller, less intense series of freelance jobs which would ultimately leave me more time for writing.

At that time, I also gave up all of my hobbies and other pursuits. I watched far less TV and movies than I ever had in my life. I was determined to spend all my free time reading and writing. After I finished my first m/m manuscript, I realized my work wasn’t submission ready. I started a new manuscript and went back to the basics. I studied grammar for months and read stacks of articles, blogs, and books on the craft of writing. I joined Romance Writers of America. Every hour I spent studying and rewriting was worth it. I learned a great deal and was propelled forward into a new phase of my writing life.

When I was almost ready to submit the next manuscript (the first I would send out) I started in on researching the other aspects of the business of writing: publishers, building a platform, and options for promotion and marketing in this niche genre. I followed various authors in the genre and made notes on what I liked and didn’t like about their promotion efforts; the way they interacted with readers and other authors; how they represented themselves on blogs, Facebook, and Twitter; and which publishers they worked with and why. Yes, I was a stalker. Still am in some respects. It helped me develop my own plans and goals for my writing career. My main goal became to maintain (as much as I could) 3 qualities in everything I do: be positive, professional, and genuine.

So what am I rambling on about here? Well, after three and a half years, I finally realized something. I needed to take a step back. I needed to find a few other joys in life that were just for me besides my writing. I was still spending time with family and friends, going out and doing some fun stuff (occasionally, at least) but when I was home, I was focused on one pursuit. I had given up all my hobbies, all of the things that had nothing to do with the written word.

I decided to start with one activity–something small that I could spend at least a few minutes on every day. Something that was just for me. Something that I could see progress as I spent time on it.

So I’ve started a garden. This year it’s going to be a small container garden outdoors and some potted plants and flowers inside. (Yes, sadly all the plants I had previously grown died years back). The SO has agreed that I can use part of the closed-off exercise room for my indoor plants so the pesky little feline members of our family won’t destroy them. I’ve always enjoyed gardening and caring for plants and am really looking forward to this, albeit minor, pursuit. Although, I know very little about gardening, so this will also be a learning experience.

Check it out. Here’s the start. These were little seeds not too long ago. I’m ridiculously excited about these little plants. They are the first things I’ve grown in years.

(c) Sloan Parker 2011

I still believe that writers need to be devoted to reading and writing as their main interest (you can’t be a serious writer if you spend forty hours a week watching reality TV or chatting on Facebook), but we also need balance. Balance is good for so many things in life.

Wish me luck on my “garden” this year. I think I might need it.

6 thoughts on “Finding My Way Through This Writing Life: A New Hobby

  1. I really like the post! Once again, Sloan, I have to say we have similar thoughts, habits, experiences. Though there are major differences it’s frightening the similarities.

    I understand how you feel about immersing yourself in reading/writing. I’ve done the same and sadly some things have suffered. In some cases friendships; especially those that were on the fence.

    I love that gardening is what you’ve chosen to pick up again because, in a way, it’s almost symbolic of what we do as writers. Plant seeds (get an idea), watch them grow with proper nourishment (outline, blurb, synopsis, the actual writing), etc.

    Hugs to you!

    • Thanks, Johnny. We are thinking a lot alike lately. *grin* Sorry you have seen some friendships suffer. Those on the fence are the hardest to maintain and the first to go when other priorities take over. Sometimes it might just mean they weren’t what you needed to focus on anyway, but that can be hard to accept. I always feel like I failed when a friendship ends or we drift apart. Like I should have done more.

      I like what you said about the gardening and being symbolic of what it’s like to create a story. I do like that this will be something tangible in my home as opposed to files that live only on the computer (and a stack of scribbled pieces of papers) for weeks and months before it’s finished.

      Thanks for checking out the post and commenting. Hugs to you too!

  2. Knitting for me is like that – I don’t ever have actual physical products in my job, so it’s nice to create something physical that has a beginning and an end. :)

    • Hi Chris. I actually thought about something like knitting for those very reasons. It would be feel so good to start a project and then see a tangible, completed result. I bet that it gives you a nice sense of accomplishment to see your work produce something beautiful like that.

      Thanks for sharing!

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