About Writers, inspiration, Writers Co-op

Hobby Anyone?

That’s a photo of Vladimir Nabokov chasing butterflies.
Ayn Rand collected stamps, Emily Dickinson baked, Dostoyevsky gambled, Tolkien was a conlang* wizard, Tolstoy played chess, and Franz Kafka amassed an extensive collection of pornography.

Mark Twain, friends with Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, obsessed over science and technology. He even patented three inventions of his own.

Why? Flannery O’Connor suggested, “Fiction writing is very seldom a matter of saying things; it is a matter of showing things. Any discipline can help your writing. Anything that helps you to see, anything that makes you look.” I couldn’t agree more.

That may be why E. E. Cummings painted daily, creating 1,600+ drawings, oil paintings, sketches, and watercolors. Other writers who used art to better visualize included Henry Miller, Kurt Vonnegut, Jack Kerouac, and Sylvia Plath. And of course, our own Mimi Speike comes to mind.

What about you? I use photography to “see” things I might otherwise not glance at twice.
What’s your hobby?


*conlang is a word used here in an attempt to pay back Carl E. Reed for constantly making me look up words.


30 thoughts on “Hobby Anyone?

  1. At various times in my life I have collected stamps, comics, paperbacks, tabletop miniatures and D & D paraphernalia. (I loved being a DM and running my own home-brewed adventures.) Also: I have collected my fair share of dispiriting and/or traumatic experiences. (Haven’t we all!) Nowadays I spend more hours than I care to admit on the PC engrossed in strategy games, Bethesda RPGs (fix the widescreen issue with Skyrim, you lazy bastids!) and flight simulators. Oh, and sleep. I sleep a lot now. . . .

    PS. “Conlag” is a good word, GD! Mayhap they use it much in Cocaigne, where transubstantiated, erstwhile, logorrheic Oxfordians palaver with hyperintelligent simorghs bedecked in loose cimars decorated with glittering ornaments of Tellurian peridoz, cerulean chalcedony and rutilant rubies, whilst rueing the tyranny of the minute-measuring clepsydra that even there limits the time allotted to the atramental-stained, thick-lensed academic set as they inquire into the dialectics of existence or lamentable lack thereof.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Neat tidbits about the activities of those writers … interesting to learn what they did when not crafting stories and/or poems. I consider writing to be a hobby, since I don’t earn a living from it (which, I believe, is most of us writers). I also draw in my free time, and have thankfully grown to not worry so much about details and use a loose style. I try to take a walk during most days. It’s become more than exercise for me: a moving meditation to breathe deeper and open my senses more and roll around ideas in my head.

    Liked by 5 people

    • A daily walk is a wonder-full and maybe underrated hobby, Dave. My lady and I have been walking our neighborhood most days for over 25 years. A quarter century has been time enough to see toddlers grow up, get a car and drive away into their own lives. There’s perspective in enjoying any activity long enough.
      And as you say, it’s a good way to open the senses and roll ideas around.

      Liked by 4 people

  3. Perry Palin says:

    I have been a trout fisherman for more than 60 years. This includes tying flies, making fly rods, contracting with farmers to grow chickens for their feathers to tie trout flies, and later when we had the space, raising our own birds. I pick up road kill for their furs or feathers. And then there’s the actual fishing.

    My wife and I are backyard beekeepers, which takes a few days of real work in the spring and fall, and a hour or two each week during the warm months. We just finished a long week at the county fair with our bee club, selling honey, honey candy, honey ice cream, honey lemonade, and doing an educational outreach to help others become beekeepers.

    We live on a “hobby” farm, but that is my real job, with barn chores and cutting brush and mowing pastures and the yard, gardens, and orchard. I love blueberries and every year I am excited to bring in the first harvest, and after a few weeks of picking I am even more pleased to be done with them for another year. We plant a small garden, grow more than we can eat, and give berries and vegetables to friends.

    And I read and write stories, another hobby.

    Liked by 6 people

    • You probably know you’re in notable company, Perry, that poet Sylvia Plath kept bees.

      As for fly fishing, I’ve loved it since learning to roll cast along the heavily wooded banks of mountain streams in Alaska. And blueberries! I clearly remember picking those from a hillside near our fishing camp and plopping them into pancake mix for breakfast. Good times. Makes me wonder if maybe keeping memories alive might qualify as a hobby.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. mimispeike says:

    A quick comment. I’ll add to it later.

    If a hobby pulls you out of your writing world, I have nothing like that. Maisie and Sly follow me everywhere. (I garden still, or try to, with my bad knees,)

    If a hobby is a fairly light-hearted activity, you pick it up, you put it down, I’ve never had that experience either. When I go in for something, I go all in.

    I’ve collected dolls, paper dolls, American arts-and-crafts pottery, Those were my major collections. Pop-up books. Vintage Christmas tree ornaments. My husband put an end to that costly pursuit when I married him.

    I am a fairly obsessive personality. In a way, that’s a good thing. I’ll be scribbling on Sly and Maisie until the day I die. My goal now (one of them) is to get all my in-progress material (seven books) onto my various websites before I kick the bucket. And to notify Syracuse University, and leave them the copyrights.

    When I was at Syracuse, I worked part-time in the archives, filing things away. I read great chunks of the unrevised work of Louis Auchincloss, and was amazed, when I read the published books, at how much he had improved it.

    I see future grad students writing their dissertations on Sly, The Rogue Decamps.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Re: ” I read great chunks of the unrevised work of Louis Auchincloss, and was amazed, when I read the published books, at how much he had improved it.”

    Yes, yes, yes! First drafts are almost always utter (rhymes with pit). The initial impulse to get the work down on paper is like throwing a telescope up to one eye and peering at far distant objects: one gets a general impression of a scene, albeit blurred. Revision is akin to focusing the lenses on that telescope to resolve an image into sharp clarity. Prolific (120+ books!) author Carol Oates has commented: “I am inclined to think that as I grow older I will come to be infatuated with the art of revision, and there may come a time when I will dread giving up a novel at all.” That’s how I feel about my poems and short stories: Why risk going on to something new when I can continually refine and enhance what already exists? The sense of accomplishment comes from the satisfaction in having produced solid, acceptable work that coheres into an aesthetically pleasing whole. (O, how one longs for the verdict of a higher level of critical acclaim!–but one mustn’t be greedy and/or delusional.)

    Liked by 4 people

  6. victoracquista says:

    I enjoy baking bread, gardening, walking around the lake across from my house, among other things. Most of all, I enjoy podfobling. This is a word I made up. To podfoble is to spend time engaged in nonproductive activities; to pass time doing nothing. Synonyms include to idle, goof off, loaf. The noun form, podfobler, bears similarity to the French word, flâneur–an idler or loafer. Although, a flâneur is more of a street walker or stroller with no particular destination in mind.

    This article on Niksen, the Dutch Art of Purposefully Doing Nothing, speaks to the concept of podfobling: https://www.bluezones.com/2019/11/niksen-the-dutch-art-of-purposefully-doing-nothing/?utm_source=BLUE%20ZONES%20Newsletter&utm_campaign=86ef0a3bb8-NOV_2019-4&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_9642311849-86ef0a3bb8-199617361&mc_cid=86ef0a3bb8&mc_eid=96c6dc9b58&fbclid=IwAR16mB00FZGaOOWAvHqXe947mqZxH1WEVB-WkPVyipSb1tsnzVsRIT9RlkA

    In truth, I am a bit of a contemplative and enjoy roaming around in my head.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Do gardening and lawn care, and household repairs count as a hobby? These are great diversions from writing, anyway.
    And travel. Pre-pandemic we were taking a couple of big trips each year. May it soon happen again before we get too old to hobble around. I include places we’ve visited in my sci fi stories. And I even go someplace because I want to use it in a story. For example, we drove most of the way up Mauna Loa on Hawaii–on a lava gravel road–to find a place I could land an alien spaceship in a pre-dawn hour. Tinian plays a major role in Book 2 of my trilogy, but I haven’t managed to get there yet.
    Is my writing a hobby? Well, it’s my main activity, besides sitting on the deck with my wife sipping chardonnay. So it’s more of an avocation.
    But not a vocation. I don’t need to earn a living from writing, thank goodness. That’s a blessing and a curse. If I needed the money, I’d have to work harder marketing the books. But see, I can take the time to enjoy posts like this one.

    Liked by 6 people

    • That’s a good place to be writing-wise, Mike! Master of your own avocation/quality-control. (“The book would have been better if I had more time but I didn’t, so . . . ” is the very real, oft-heard lament of the professional, contracted-to-produce-specified-work writer.)

      Liked by 5 people

    • I’m sure gardening is a hobby, Mike. And maybe one of the very oldest. I definitely do not have a green thumb but I do have a couple of bonsai trees and so far, so good.

      “I even go someplace because I want to use it in a story.”
      I understand that. I use places I’ve been as settings for my writing. I’ve even used Google Earth to peer closely at those places to refresh my memory.

      And now that you mention it, writing may well be my hobby now. Why not?

      Liked by 4 people

  8. Carl 😀
    What is a hobby? “A hobby is considered to be a regular activity that is done for enjoyment, typically during one’s leisure time.”

    Are video games hobbies?
    “Hobbies tend to follow trends in society, for example stamp collecting was popular during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as postal systems were the main means of communication, while video games are more popular nowadays following technological advances.”


    Liked by 3 people

  9. I have a story about a gardening incident with eggplants that is getting published in Greenprints Magazine. Sadly, that hobby ended during my college days.

    When the New Horizons bands are up and running, I play drums– concert traps and jazz drum set. And in past years I sang in the annual Messiah concerts. So music is an occasional hobby for me.

    Something I do (almost) daily though, and is less hobby than exercise, is Tai Chi. I learned a Yang style short form of around 34 positions three decades ago, and have kept in practice, even teaching it as an adult education class. When I travel, I try to check out the local tai chi and qigong offerings, and yes, am a big fan of travel, too.

    I don’t want to think of my writing as hobby, because that would seem to diminish it, but I don’t depend on it for income, either. I think of it as a vocation, as it is something I do regularly and as my primary activity.

    Guess you will hear more about that next week!

    Liked by 3 people

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