The Writing Hobby

The Writing Hobby

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.

alphabet-black-and-white-blur-938165When 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.

abstract-art-black-and-white-207732I 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.

Writing

Writing

Since I started this blog, my interest in writing has increased. I just haven’t increased my actual writing yet! Doh! I did however make it out to Borders today to look up any books on writing. I walked out with two small books, at a hefty price I might add. What I didn’t want was a technical book on writing or a school-type book. No, what I was looking for was a book about the topic from actual writers; the people who write for a living novels or non-fiction type of stuff. I wanted a book to help me free myself in writing and getting started. I guess I want to write what I see and feel. I was looking for a book to help me with that. Something to help clear out the obstacles and the preconceived notions that hinder a writer.

I found a book called “Writing Down The Bones, Freeing the Writer Within” by Natalie Goldberg.

I started reading after I got home this afternoon. I am several chapters into it already and it is quite good. It’s along the lines of what I thought I was looking for. The author takes a no nonsense approach and is telling the reader to simply write. Don’t bother with punctuation or editing or controlling your thoughts as they go from mind to paper. When I read that, it reminded me of a class I had in high school and a particular assignment we had one day. I don’t recall all the details of what the instructor said, but the idea was to write for maybe 30 or 60 minutes anything that came into your mind, be free, be uninhibited with your writing. So I took that literally and did just that. I don’t remember what I wrote about specifically (and I wish I could have that paper with me today) but I do recollect that there was a lot of randomness to it, jumbled thoughts and ideas and such.

After the instructor collected everyone’s papers and reviewed them he came back the next class singing my praises for following his instructions. Apparently I was the only one who took him at his word. He said there were others who wrote good and decently, but they kept to a theme or controlled their thoughts while writing them. I was the one who was uninhibited, free and without guide. I had just written down whatever came into my mind. I am certain it was full of grammatical errors, misspellings and run-on sentences.

I was quite happy with myself for just writing like that and then even more pleased when I got an ‘A’ and lot’s of praise from the instructor for my assignment. I guess it’s too bad that I hadn’t continued on with writing after that because I am now only trying to get into the practice and hobby of it.

The other book I purchased is “If You Want To Write, A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit” by Brenda Ueland. I flipped through it and read a few pages throughout and it piqued my interest enough to get it. I think it falls into the same category as the first book I mentioned.

I have recently given up a favorite hobby of mine only because it is an expensive hobby and at times controversial. I love firearms and target shooting. But they are so expensive and ammunition is getting more and more expensive all the time that I cannot afford to shoot much anymore. Therefore I decided to give it up and I’ve sold all my rifles, save one, and had one pistol destroyed by my local Sheriff’s Department. This pistol was a cheap $100 special brand new. To fire it, I had to hold the magazine upward and pushing forward for it to be seated correctly to allow the next round to be fed into the chamber after firing. I felt that it was a safety hazard and was reluctant to sell it to someone for fear of them getting hurt while using it. So like I said, shooting is an expensive hobby and I just don’t want to play anymore.

That leads me to my new hobby that I want to take up: writing. Writing is much cheaper than shooting! All I need is a pen and paper, or a computer which I already have. However, I am thinking of getting a MacBook Air, that ultra thin and light laptop that Apple makes and use it just for writing or blogging. Obviously, I can do that from my iMac or my MacBook Pro. But I want something a little more comfortable to use. The iMac is my desktop computer and I have to sit a my desk to use it. It’s not overly comfortable to sit at for long periods of time. I spend a good part of my day sitting at a desk or standing in front of computer servers and then I am at the gym later on. So when I get home I am pooped and would rather relax in my recliner or on the couch. So I want a laptop to use while on the chair or couch. I already have a laptop, the MacBook Pro. It’s a great laptop, but it is a bit bulky and heavy to curl up with. Plus, it tends to get quite hot when sitting on your lap. I have a real nice aluminum laptop cooler I use with it to draw the heat away from it and keep the heat off of me. But that adds more weight and awkwardness to it, thus making it uncomfortable to curl up with it.

When Apple first released the MacBook Air a few years ago, I liked it, but thought I had no use for it. I felt it would be a great laptop for a journalist or writer or someone always on the move. I still feel that way and now I hope to be that writer who can make good use of the MacBook Air. I read a discussion forum on Apple’s website tonight about the MacBook Air and it’s use for writers and the remarks folks made were mostly positive which is encouraging to me.

Now all I have to do is come up with the $1600 for one! They’re not cheap by any means, but with Apple, you usually get what you pay for: quality and elegance. I spent just over $3,000 for my iMac about 18 months ago and I haven’t been disappointed. It just works and that is what I want from a computer. I spent too much time on Windows based PC’s fixing things. Sometimes it was problems that came up from seemingly nowhere, and other times they were caused by me tinkering with things making them do what they weren’t meant to do. But with this iMac, I don’t tinker anymore, nor do I care to, and it doesn’t present me with problems at all. It’s been a great machine so far and a good workhorse.

I look forward to getting a MacBook Air, as I am experienced and happy with Apple’s products. But I look forward to doing more writing and not so much as to make a living at it (at least not right now) but as a hobby and something to occupy my “me time” and give me some fulfillment. I also enjoy reading a lot and will be happy to do both from now on.

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