Category Archives: Publishing

"You Need a Hobby"

So I have been told – more than once – that I need to get a hobby. Sure. Easy enough, right? Just get a hobby. Right. Just pick one up and do it. Easier said than done. To me a hobby needs to be something for which I have a passion and truly enjoy – not just something to do. And that’s a real problem because I have this nasty tendency to overthink everything. Yes, everything. Well, ok, not everything. Certain decisions, like what kind of toilet paper or laundry detergent to get, are just no-brainers in my book. But everything else? Big problem. Lots of overthinking going on. And overanalyzing too.

So, hobbies. Right. That’s where I was going with this. You’ll have to excuse me today – brain is still coming back from the fog of Christmas and a few days of vacation with the entire boy-clan at home. Anyhoo, I started thinking about my past hobbies. Aerobics. Weight lifting. Running. Pilates. Yoga. I spent years doing those. But, really, shouldn’t a hobby be something you like doing? Yup. And I really hated most of those – except when I was able to tell someone that I ran X miles the day before. That felt kind of good. But still not really enjoyable.
About the only kind of exercise I ever really looked forward to was Zumba. Yes, Zumba. Even though I’m sure watching my uncoordinated self try to do some of those moves was pretty entertaining for everyone else in the class, I loved it. But the budget wouldn’t hold up to the gym fees, so that went out the window. The Spouse even got me Zumba for the Wii. Have I cracked open that box yet? Heck no. Maybe it’s time.
I know plenty of people with hobbies. I do. One of my friends designs and screen prints t-shirts. Yep – you read that right. She actually went out and bought a real live screen printing machine to speed up her work. And she won’t go into business with it, because she says she wouldn’t enjoy it then. Makes sense. But I definitely don’t need a hobby that would bring lots more stuff into my house. There’s too much crap and clutter there as it is.
Last year around the holidays I spent lots of time with a group of women who crocheted. Couldn’t be too hard, right? If that many people were able to do it and talk/listen/carry on entire conversations and watch TV while doing it?
Wrong. I tried. Something about the little bitty needle, written directions that made no sense and YouTube videos that all seemed to feature right-handed people. I’m a lefty. The world is made for right-handers and it stinks. Plus, just when I thought I was getting the hang of it, my cat decided to jump right in and gnaw through my yarn. Another bust.
I’ve talked with knitters. I used to knit. My mom taught me as a kid, and we had a rocking collection of handmade potholders if I do say so myself. But just reading about charts and repeats and numbers – that sounds too much like math for me. Don’t get me wrong, I like math – on my own terms. But we didn’t get along well in school. At. All. So that kind of takes away the enjoyment factor that should be important in a hobby.
Tennis? I used to teach at a school with a large population of ‘tennis moms.’ These were a rare breed. I never knew that it took so much time and effort to get all made up with full hair to go and play tennis. Not to mention the designer shoes and sportswear. Who knew? But apparently it’s fun. A colleague’s husband was a tennis pro at one of the clubs frequented by these mommies, and he always said they were the easiest to teach. Show them a few tips, and then spend the rest of the hour listening to their gossip about who was doing what on Facebook. Seriously. Not sure that fits my budget or idea of a good time either.
So that brings me back to writing. Sadly, I get most of my ideas on the drive to the office. So I want to immediately get them down in writing when I get in. Bad idea. Not sure the office people would understand about that one. But I do carry a journal and write stuff down when it hits me.
Ok, so I’ve got a hobby. But writing is also a dream of mine. To Write For a Living. To Be Published. I’ve sent off a couple of things here and there. I have. I’ve got the rejection emails to prove it. One online site told me that ‘personal statement essays’ are not considered by their firm. Personal Statement Essay? Never learned that genre in school. Somehow I think it’s a made-up name, kind of like ‘literary nonfiction’ in the district where I taught. Hmmm…
I’ve looked at other options too. Wrote a piece that – in my opinion – was at least as good as some of the junk I’ve read in magazines, and looked for contact information to send it in. I found these guidelines on a popular women’s magazine site. They look for:


Marriage articles with an emphasis on strengthening the relationship

Short parenting features on how to deal with universal health and behavioral issues

Reporting on exciting trends in women’s lives

“Writers are advised to read at least the last six issues of the magazine (available in most libraries) to get a better understanding of appropriate subject matter and treatment. We prefer to see detailed queries rather than completed manuscripts, and suggest that you provide us with some ideas for sources/experts. Please enclose two or more samples of your writing, as well as a stamped, self-addressed envelope. “

What’s a query? No clue. So I guess my piece about a woman trying to escape her abusive polygamist husband while battling an addiction and searching for her soul mate wouldn’t be a good fit. Dang it. And I thought I had a good hook, too. And other web sites have been just as discouraging. Apparently you have to be published in order to get published. Kind of like looking for entry-level jobs that require experience when you have to work the job in order to get the experience.
Guess I’ve got a LOT of learning to do. But hey, at least I’ve got a hobby now, right? All I need is unlimited time to explore it…
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