If I don't write I go mad

The other day a well-meaning relative set my blood boiling by referring to writing as my “hobby”.

So, is my writing a hobby?

NO. It’s a full-time job I’ve been working at since 2002 and hold a masters degree in. It’s not something I do in my spare moments like crotchet, it’s something I do every day, that fills my thoughts and propels me through life.

It’s a calling, something I am compelled to do even against my better judgement on how best to earn a living. It is a passion to make sense of the world and life itself through words, a yearning to create something of beauty from the chaos of experience.

As I tell my students, writing is not something you choose, it chooses you. You know you’re inescapably a writer when something dreadful happens in your life, and instead of just living it, being there in the moment and grieving or crying or whatever it is normal people do in a crisis, you are thinking of how to write it. How to wrap words around it and make it better. What title it should have.

I don’t know if this is a blessing. Sometimes it feels like more of a curse. If I could turn the switch off, I would. Even just for a moment. But then I’d turn it back on again, because for better or worse, I love it.

So, no, dear cousin, writing is not a hobby. It’s who I am.

What about you? Is writing your hobby or something much more than that?

10 thoughts on “IS WRITING A HOBBY?

  1. I wish I could let go of it. I wish it was as easy as giving up knitting or whatever, but it has a stronger grip. An all consuming activity that brings in zero money is defined as a hobby in our barren society. It’s our culture that has it wrong, not us writers.

  2. It’s our society that has it wrong. If one pursues a passion with no hope of earning a living from it we call it a hobby, thereby giving it a lower status than a ‘paid’ activity. If we keep privileging earning money above everything else then as a society we have some serious problems ahead.

    • I’m with you Pip! Australia may be the very worst country for this, disdaining intellectuals and artists, lauding sports stars. Just last night during the Sports section on the news I was thinking, I hope I see the day when arts has even a one minute mention on the news! But bugger them all! We’ll keep on going! HA!

  3. Peter Kenna, playwright and actor, told us at Currency Press years ago that when his mother died he rushed to the mirror as soon as he could to see what inconsolable anguish looked like.

  4. But did Peter Kenna debase the experience by watching it? Isn’t grief a last call to the departed…..and not to have its head turned? Interesting take on the reportage/voyeurism/narcissism continuum.

    • I don’t know whether the experience is debased – more observed minutely- which, when you are experiencing great loss, is annoying more than anything else. To not be able to turn the observer off, even in your darkest moments, is not something I’d wish on my friends. I suppose it’s all about how to communicate that loss – and sometimes words fail us. For me, that’s when music and dance come in – when the word is a groan, a deep bass note, and a collapsing to the floor unable to bear the weight of being any longer.

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