Tuesday, February 27, 2007

This Hobby Has a Name

When I'm angry or sad or happy or proud, invariably one of the first things I have to do is talk it out. I will sometimes share thoughts with a friend or two on the phone, but one of my best friends and I have more of an emailing relationship. There have been times that I have picked up the phone to call her if something seems very important to me, but writing it down and sending it and then reading her thoughtful responses seems to work for both of us. I am just now realizing that perhaps in many ways it even works better for me--that perhaps as much as seeking her encouragement or council, I am fulfilling a necessary urge to get the words out of me and into print.

When Amanda was diagnosed with a minor birth defect when she was a newborn that resulted in her wearing an eye patch and shortly thereafter eyeglasses, I wrote to sort out my feelings.

When a pregnancy ended in miscarriage at sixteen weeks, I had to write about it. I emailed friends and I journaled and I essayed.

It's a hobby, a gift, a pleasure. Like any hobby or passion, if the skills aren't honed, they deteriorate. When they are used and flexed, the muscle grows. My strength as a writer depends on my training, my focus. My skill may or may not improve, but the call and enjoyment of it will strengthen.

I can look back and see that it's always been something I pursued. When I was in junior high school, my friend and I had a journal that we passed back and forth. We were going to write The Great American Novel. When I had a job after college that had a lot of downtime, I sat at the computer and wrote stories. Other times I have set this interest aside for others. That's why I'm enjoying blogging so much. I started writing, and then fed by the feedback and interaction and inspiration from reading other bloggers, I have kept writing. It is a vehicle to participate in my hobby of choice. Just as I enjoyed scrapbooking more (and was more faithful to that pursuit), when I lived two doors down from my Creative Memories consultant and got together monthly with other neighborhood friends to work on our albums, adding the sense of community to writing, which is essentially a solitary pursuit, has enhanced it. Just as someone who begins working out might also become interested in better nutrition, the writing desire has also rekindled the reading desire. Words, in any form, are my leisure activity of choice.

Recently I wonder if blogging is keeping me from other writing that I want to do (for articles or stories), but I don't think that's what matters right now. What matters is feeding the urge and giving myself time to wear the title of writer. We think nothing of claiming names that go along with other hobbies: runner, scrapbooker, book-lover, even artist.

Are you a writer?


Heidi said...

Very interesting post! I have to say that writing things down for me is so much better than talking sometimes. In actually typing it out, it causes me to think about what I'm saying MORE. I am *less* apt to say something quickly here in bloggy land (or in an email) than in real life and I hope that means that I am more understood here.


Katrina said...

I really like this post, particularly the glimpse into how writing has always been a part of your life. And this quote was perfect: "Words, in any form, are my leisure activity of choice." So true for me, too! And while I often hesitate to say it (because of various insecurities and uncertainties), Yes, I'm a writer. :)

Jen Rouse said...

I think I may take your sentence, "Words, in any form, are my leisure activity of choice," and make it my motto, because it's so true for me too!

I have had a hard time considering blogging to be "real" writing even though I may work hard on my posts. Really, my blog is nothing more than a series of personal essays about my family life. I think it's because publishing a blog is so easy and free. There are no rejection letters to deal with, and anyone can do it. For every well-written blog, there are a lot of poor ones out there too. Because there are no set standards, or obstacles to publishing, I think blogging somehow seems less valuable than writing for some other type of publication.

~Melissa~ said...

I love this post. I used to dream of being a writer when I was in junior high - along the way I lost my dream. Writing has always been a part of my life via a journal, and now my blog, but I still feel that I've lost that creative sound. My writing would need a lot of work before I would be able to keep the interest of others.

org junkie said...

I love when you write "it is a vehicle to participate in my hobby of choice". Boy can I relate to this one! Blogging gives me many opportunities to get my organizing "fix" as I like to say the same way you get your writing "fix". Gotta love it!

Great post!

Code Yellow Mom said...

"writer" sounds so much better than "blogger." :) Blogging has reopened an avenue of creativity that I lost somewhere along the way, for sure, and while some (or most) of my posts are not necessarily fit to print or valuable to anyone else, writing it all down has become a way to feel like my own person again. This is such a great post - I really relate to so many of your feelings about "words."

© 2003-2007 M-mv said...

Hmmm. Your post has certainly made me think.

I scored my first paid bylines when I was still in high school; my first column (paid), the year I before I entered college. I worked my way through college (undergrad) as an eyewear salesperson and, yes, writer; through university (grad), as a bookstore clerk, tutor, and, yes, writer. I have been working -- some years a lot, some years not -- as a writer and editor for more than a quarter of century.

So the idea of writing as a hobby makes my nose wrinkle a bit. Writing isn't a hobby. Is it? Scrapbooking, yes. Needlepoint, yes. Stamp collecting, of course. Antiquing, ayup. But writing?

I resist.

As I said, though, your post made me think.

© 2003-2007 M-mv said...

Golly, I do despise how Blogger truncates my comments. (*sigh*) I rarely comment anywhere, and when I do -- truncation! Maybe that's the work of the gods: Comment not, Mrs. M-mv!

Heh, heh, heh.

Anyway, I meant to conclude my comment with something warmer, as befits the conversational nature of comments.

So, happy Tuesday!


Postscript: My previous comment was not meant as a self-congratulatory note, either. What I was trying to convey was that writing is my work, my profession, and (without drama) my life. It's what I do for a living, in other words.

Perhaps I feel as the pianist must feel about adult piano students, huh? Maybe there's a certain snobbery at work. *That's* what I meant when I said that your entry made me think, by the way. You have caused me pull up the ideas I have about writing and examine them.

For that, I thank you.

Heather said...

I'm a writer! And I'm just like you. I have to talk out my feelings, maybe, but I really need to write them out. Letters, she wrote.
Blogging is a community journal and a daily warm-up to my writing, like practicing scales or one of those test areas at the arboretum where new flowers and ideas germinate.

Rachelle said...

You know, many people who make their living as writers often struggle with "to blog or not to blog" because of exactly what you said -- it takes time away from other writing they want to do. Or in the case of deadlines, writing they "should" be doing. But many writers (as you know) blog anyway, I think because it gives us a chance to write whatever the heck we want and not have to worry about pleasing a publisher!

Yes, I'm a writer. But I think I would call myself that even if I didn't make a living doing it!

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

Writing is very cathartic to me. The entry at my blog today about our decision not to have anymore children was both very painful to write, and yet very freeing as well.

It helps me sort out my feelings to put them in hard copy form (whether that be blog, essay, journal, what have you).

Rebecca said...

No, I guess I never thought I was. But it's definitely working for me; I'm enjoying it much more than I would have expected.

Dianne said...

Interesting thoughts, Jennifer. Writing is more than a hobby for me; it's my vehicle to get outside myself. Since many of the jobs I've had have involved writing, it's always been part of my life. I'd definitely say blogging is a hobby though.

Kelly said...

I enjoy your writing so much, and am so glad that you share with us your "hobby" each day.

Kathy said...

Thanks for the inspiring post...I linked to you from Faith Lifts. I am a writer and I've always thought of it as a hobby. I'm trying to get published right now, but even without that goal, it is turning words into thoughts, to sentences, to pages, that inspires me, not the end product. Although I do have to say that I'm more motivated when I do have a goal. Thanks for sharing. And I love the Faith Lifts. Kathy

angeleyes Blue said...

I have always been a teacher. I love teaching. I remember in college one of my professors said that we would each have 5 careers in our lifetime.

Special education teacher
Kindergarten Teacher
Recreation Program leader for
Adults with Special Needs
Therapeutic Horseback Riding
CSR for an insurance company

I am not enjoying the last one but I am at 5. I haven't even mentioned Mom and Wife.

I wrote a series of books 14 years ago. I have not been published yet--Key Word is YET. I attempted to take these books off the back shelf a couple of weeks ago but Teens being Teens I realized that this idea needed to be put back on the shelf.

I am thinking Maybe while the kids are away in college. I am having too much fun being the mom of teens and all that entails.

So I guess I am not a writer bottom line is I am a MOM!

Barb said...

I suspect a lot of us do the same thing, Jennifer. I get some of my most confused and scattered feelings straightened out by writing them to my sister in email.

You're a gifted writer. There are a lot of us out here who are blessed that you use the blogging forum to express your thoughts. I hope you never, ever stop.

And can I just say this one thing? I would not do, at all, for me to live two doors down from a Creative Memories consultant. Last time I got near one, I spent $150 without even thinking about it! Honestly, we'd just have to move to a different neighborhood. LOL

Mitali Perkins said...

I remember the joy I felt when I realized that God didn't mind me writing my prayers instead of saying them out loud.

Jen Robinson said...

Interesting stuff, Jennifer. I know that I've always preferred to write my thoughts down rather than talk about them. To this day, as I struggle with finding enough time for the things that I want to do, I frequently prefer to write in my blog rather than talk to people on the phone. One of the nice things about blogging has been finding friends who feel the same way.

I spend a lot of time on my blog, especially on writing book reviews. I also, for work, write and publish a monthly newsletter that goes out to nearly 2500 people. And yet I still hesitate to call myself a writer. I can't put my finger on why, exactly, but your post has given me food for thought. Thanks!

Oh, and in response to your comment on my blog, I always want to have more time for reading, no matter how much I do spend. I know you can understand.

Michele said...

I don't make much of living from my writing, but given the fact it takes up ALL my spare time outside of my day job, I'm jolly well going to call myself a writer !

(I followed Jen Robinson's link here...)