Almost exactly two years ago I posted about “Picking Up Old Hobbies Again” where I resurrected a past teenage hobby of assembling and painting fantasy figurines for tabletop gaming. I spent a lot of money on the figures, paints and brushes and other accessories. Such is my habit when I get excited about a new thing. I stuck with the hobby for about a year, but it slowed down after the first six months. Perhaps it was my eyesight which isn’t what it used to be or that I don’t have the patience for the tedious nature of painting these things. It could also be a combination of both. But I started waning on the hobby and eventually gave it up.
Then I figured I’d try my hand at acrylic canvas painting since that was on a large board and not small or tedious. I followed a few fantastic YouTubers who do tutorials for beginners to experts. I did that for maybe six months as well and made some decent but simple paintings and even gave one as a gift to my sister one Christmas. I don’t know why I gave up on this hobby, but after a while, I didn’t feel like doing it anymore. I gave all of my supplies to a friend who loves to paint and continued to do it as her hobby.
After the failure of those two hobbies and a few others over the years I thought hard about what I like and what I’ve kept up with for many years. What I came up with was rather obvious, yet I didn’t see it staring me in the face. It was two things, writing and reading. They’re intertwined, and I love both. Each of these activities I’ve done since I was in school and have kept at them, off and on, throughout my life.
When I was in grade school, we were at an assembly where a writer was speaking. I don’t remember the person’s name or even their gender anymore, but one concept that I do remember is that as a writer it is essential to keep a pad of paper and pencil handy at all times. Whether it’s on your nightstand next to your bed or in the car so you can grab it if you’re at a stoplight, the idea is to capture ideas as they come to you so that by the time you can write about it, you haven’t lost it.
Then later in high school, I had to attend summer school because I failed French class. I hated school and always just wanted to get home so I could play and do the things I wanted to do.
One day in summer school the class was instructed to do an assignment on creative writing. We weren’t given any topics or direction except to write about anything we wanted for the allotted time. I had taken the task seriously as I recall and I wrote about anything that popped into my mind and filled up a few sheets of notebook paper doing it. After turning in our work and the teacher reviewing, I had been singled out. The teacher had said what I did was the perfect example of what creative writing is all about. He gushed about my work for a couple of minutes which embarrassed me significantly, but secretly I was proud of my accomplishment.
I remember reading several books as a young person in school and always enjoyed it when my high school English teacher would spend time reading a book to us for a few minutes during class.
During my time in the US Marine Corps, I even read a few books from time to time when we were in the field and had some downtime. I didn’t do any writing during those four years, but I sure wish I had. If I had kept a journal of my daily life during that time, it would have been hugely helpful now as I attempt to write a second book which is of my memoirs.
After I came back to civilian life and discovered the advent of blog’s, like this one, I started writing things again. I also continued to read books from time to time as well, but not as much as I’d have liked. TV and movies had taken more of my attention from these two hobbies of writing and reading.
Then when I decided to leave my church and organized religion behind I decided to write a book about it. That was an exciting thing to do – write a book – and I loved every bit of it. I had a lot of help from my friend Christina DeBusk who is a successful author and freelance writer.
Right now I am working on my second book, and it’s coming along nicely. As I pondered my hobbies, I realized that writing and reading books had been the two things that I’ve kept up with as lifelong hobbies. I’ve been doing both since I was a kid and I continue to do it now.
It was just a few weeks ago that I realized and acknowledged this. It was with the help of famed author Stephen King and his book “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.” In it, there is a part where he says if you want to be a serious writer you should throw out your TV.
Just before Christmas Eve in 2018, I decided to change things up in my home. I didn’t throw out the TV in the literal sense, but I did remove the ones in the front room and the bedroom and put them on the floor in a closet in a back room. Up front, I put in its place two Apple HomePod’s in a stereo setup so I can listen to music, audiobooks and podcasts while I write or read.
I didn’t get rid of TV altogether, and in the back room I took my Apple TV 4K and hooked it up to a Dell 4K monitor next to one of my computer desks. I can still watch a program when I want to, but it should help limit my time in front of the TV. The office chair isn’t nearly as comfortable as the front room furniture, and the monitor isn’t a big screen like the other TV is.
It’s only been a few weeks so far, but I’ve just watched about 2 hours of TV in that time. I’ve read three books and started a new one today, and I’ve gotten more work done on my book. Plus I’ve picked up the pace on the writing for this blog and several other pieces of professional writing for my day job.
What I’ve concluded thus far is that I enjoy writing and reading and have been doing them for about 30 years and those are the real hobbies I enjoy.
With that said I’m looking forward to 2019 to writing a lot more and reading a lot more. I have set myself a goal of 24 books this year on the Goodreads website and if you’d like to have a friendly competition, join me on the Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge.
Thanks for reading.