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.