I had such a good time reading the entries for the Fruit, Strange & Otherwise giveaway. I'll never look at billboards, tabloid headlines or geese the same way again.
We put the magic hat to work, and the giveaway winners are:
Winners, please send your full name and ship-to info to LynnViehl@aol.com, and I'll get these books out to you. My thanks to everyone who joined in.
Writing is regarded by many outsiders as a hobby, not a career. This doesn't change when you turn pro. You can work twice as many hours as your spouse, and slog your way to the top of the industry, but not having an office, 9 to 5 hours or weekly paycheck somehow invalidates your labor as "a real job."
Some writers do view their work as a hobby, and there's nothing wrong with that. One of the great things about writing is that you can do it however and whenever you like.
As for me, people in my family stopped calling my work "Lynn's little hobby" when my books started showing up in airports and grocery stores. The only thing about my writing that ever genuinely impressed my teenager was finding Night Lost being sold at Wal-Mart. Evidently when you make it to Wal-Mart's shelves, you're the real deal.
Writers do a lot of things besides write, and we get as much pleasure out of our hobbies as anyone else. I've noticed two things about writer's real hobbies over the years: 1) there's almost always a creative aspect involved and 2) in some significant way they help with writing.
I think the most common hobby is some form of art. Whether a writer collects it or creates their own, art stimulates the imagination, provokes emotion and thoughts, and contributes to a creative environment, both inside and outside the writer's head. I'm very visual, and painting and sketching have helped me flesh out and nail down characters, settings and scenes. I put together sketches or digital art composites of character models to show my editors what I think a certain character looks like (very helpful during cover art conferences.)
Book binding is an interesting hobby as well as a labor of love, but it's also educational and an art form all on its own. I took one class in Japanese book binding and became so fascinated with the process that I've made most of my journals, private editions and gift books ever since. Being able to make my own books got me in touch with my work in a very different way, too. It's nice to be able to bypass the publishing process and do everything myself.
Many writers become serious book collectors. Collections range from rare editions to covers, authors or genres (I like to collect my favorite authors' complete works.) A few years ago I joined LibraryThing and began cataloguing my personal library online, and have since met some terrific collectors, swapped books with them and found some great new resources for rare editions. Being able to collect all the works by one author has given me a lot of insight into how writers change and grow over the course of a career.
There are probably as many types of crafts out there as there are writers. Whether you're a quilter, knitter, jewelry-maker or potter, your chosen craft allows you to express yourself in the same way a traditional artist does while still making something useful. Crafts are also an excellent way to work off writing- or life-related frustration. I often try crafts that I've chosen to be my characters' hobbies to get a more hands-on experience of what they do.
Do you guys have any hobbies that help you in some way with writing? Tell us about them in comments.