A jack of all trades, by Deb Katie

Writing used to be my hobby. Then I started doing it for a living — not just with my book, but at my various day jobs over the years. You’d be amazed how spending a whole day finding words for someone else’s vision, while fun and rewarding (er… most of the time), can deprive you of the energy to pursue your own vision, especially in your precious free time.

So what you do then is, you start to make time for it. You do it even at the times when you don’t feel like it. You are determined and steadfast and you hope your hard work pays off.

I don’t know about you, but that’s not exactly how I want to describe my hobbies.

When writing became my job, I had to find other hobbies. I had a brief foray into the world of competitive Irish dancing (and no, I’m not posting pictures). I teamed up with an old friend to learn Esperanto. I crocheted half a scarf. I taught myself Photoshop (which eventually turned into part of my job, so no more hobby there). I began what would be a lifelong obsession with updating my website.

And in 2006, I found the mother of all hobbies.

My mother and stepmother both sewed, but I never took the time to learn how to do it. Only as I got older did I see the appeal in being able to create something unique and customized. Visiting home in March of ’06, I made a dog-sized quilt for Winston.

And that’s how it began. Now I have two sewing machines and a serger as well as an entire room that is technically both my office and my sewing room but, let’s be honest, is really called “The Sewing Room.”

Last spring, after we finally had some order landscaped into our jungle of a back yard, sewing moved briefly to the back burner while I discovered the joys of gardening, growing lettuce from seed and lovingly pruning our tiny peach tree (which produces tiny peaches).

And that’s not all. I’m dying to learn a language, to start playing tennis again, to teach Winston to run an agility course. Not to mention that I have books stored up in my head that need to make it onto the computer, and books stored up on my bookshelves that need to be read.

I try not to go on and on about all of my various interests, mostly because my husband looks at my sewing room and gets this look that’s a combination of highly worried and about-to-be-indignant. After all, our house only has so many extra rooms to accommodate my hobbies.

But secretly inside, I let the little fires burn. I even light a new little fire whenever I see something I want to do or try. There are more ways I’d like to spend my days that we have days to live on the planet. There’s less time to experience all of it than I would need. Some of it is, frankly, impossible. Much of it I’ll never get to.

And that, my friends, is where the writing comes in verrrrrry handy.


~ Deb Katie Alender

PS – I switched blogging platforms over the weekend, so my old KatieAlender.com site feed isn’t working. If you subscribe to my blog via RSS, please click the link above and grab the new feed! And let me know how you like the redesign.

PPS – My other hobby is spending way too much time playing with the image editing features at Photobucket — in case you couldn’t tell.

17 Replies to “A jack of all trades, by Deb Katie”

  1. Well, your are obviously someone who has an aptitude to pursue multiple (new) ventures at once, and substantially delve into them to a degree most people aren’t motivated enough to even try. You like writing and you obviously (like me) love dogs, so you are already involved in a field that stirs your interests. Having said that, if there is, as you say, a little fire that gains momentum and turns into a blaze, pursue that instead.

    Easier said than done. I know.

    If you’re good in calculus I could really use your help. The professor I have is not as considerate as are most devoted instructors. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m currently slipping Toby five bucks to do my homework. This can’t last forever:0)

  2. Tom, your first paragraph is a very flattering way of saying I’m hyper. 😉 No, just kidding. I suspect I’ll spend my whole life chasing fires. (Metaphorical fires… I hate actual fires, which is why camping isn’t one of my hobbies.)

    And good heavens! If Toby’s friends find out, his reputation will be ruined. Dogs are supposed to eat homework, not do it for hire, you know. I’m afraid I don’t know anything about calculus. I took it a thousand years ago and even somehow passed, but then in college I reverted to algebra because somehow I forgot that college was for learning NEW things! D’oh!

  3. You are so right about how your work can’t also be your hobby. I know a very talented friend with a gorgeous singing voice who is active in musical theater, and I asked him why he didn’t make music his job. (He’s a journalist.) He said because he didn’t want to suck all the fun out of music. That’s how I feel about music (though I don’t have half of my friend’s natural talent.) I love it, but I love to PLAY with it.

    I have big ambitions for future hobbies, as well. I want to learn to play the piano. I love the piano and even have a spot picked out for one in my house. But between the kiddos and the writing in all its facets, that one will have to wait.

  4. Exactly–I can love my job without wanting to retreat to it for relaxation. And I think getting a piano is a wonderful idea! That’s another thing I’d love to be able to do–play an instrument. But that’s the area where I feel most deficient (except for singing in the car, naturally).

  5. Katie –

    I know how you feel. Writing used to be my hobby (and it’s still among my most favorite pastimes). But really, once it’s your job, you do need another hobby! And I’ve flitted around from hobby to hobby too. But more about that on Friday.

    But I am soooo intrigued by you learning Esperanto. I am a polyglot (in that I speak a lot of languages (or have spoken would be more accurate) and that I tend to use them all interchangeably when speaking), but I never learned Esperanto. I had always hoped that Esperanto would catch on so I could stop learning all the other languages. Good for you for trying to learn it.

  6. A professor in college — he was teaching a class on literature and the opera and that’s how I knew him, but his main thing was French — started speaking to me randomly in French, once. I didn’t know what to say and just gawped at him until he said, “Have I been speaking French to you?”

    To know a second language so well you can slip in and out of it! He had a pronounced Brooklyn accent when he wasn’t speaking French.

    (I used that little episode in my book, by the way.)

  7. Wow, you are BUSY. My mom always used to to say only boring people were bored, so there you go. And good for you for staking off an entire room of the house to yourself. Virginia Woolf would be proud.

  8. Eve, I wish I could say I’ve kept up with it. Although it’s very simple, rules-wise, so I’m sure if I tried I could pick it up a bit. I was never fluent, but I could bungle my way through a simple conversation. Right now I keep feeling that if I’m going to concentrate on another language, it should be Spanish–I took it in school and retained a lot, plus the obvious reason is that I live in Southern California!

    Kristina, that’s so funny. One of my high school Spanish teachers was really more of a French teacher, and she used to ramble on in French.

    Tiffany, well, I used to have two rooms, but then the husb made a bit of a fuss. So he has the upstairs office and I got the computer from that office to put in the sewing room. But yes, I’m holding onto my one room with all my might. Someday our children will have to share the fourth bedroom because I don’t think the husb and I are willing to part with our offices. 😉

  9. Katie –

    Spanish is totally the best and most beautiful and logical language there is. I know, I’m going to get cr@p for that. But I’ve learned like what, seven languages in my life (okay, 8 with ASL) and Spanish is just my absolute favorite. Well, Spanish and sign language. So if you’re going to pick one – then I say go with Spanish.

  10. Larramie, you and I are definitely kindred spirits. I love learning (of course, I only realized that after I graduated).

    Eve, I know. And I have enough background to allow me to study on my own, unlike any other language.

  11. SHOWOFF!

    Irish dancing, eh. Is that the one were the legs and feet are flailing about, while the arms are frozen at your sides? I would need photos of that!

  12. Jason, that is exactly it, and you are going to have to catch me at exactly the right moment. How about we’ll say if Bad Girls makes the NY Times bestseller list? 😉 Then you could have all the photos you want.

  13. I’m polygluttonous…can eat in any language…does that count?

    I know Eve’s new hobby, which used to be my old hobby, but I guess gardening in the summer…great tomatoes…yum, yum…roses, iris now my new obsession. They are expensive to plant…one can cost 95.00…yipes.
    And then there is my gigantic fireplace mosaic…I do a small space almost daily, I hunt for shells and other interesting objects, and hope I finish it before I am much older. I don’t know how I will do the top part as it is up to the ceiling and will be composed of tiny little shells. Oh well. Don’t suggest a ladder, I am too old to fall.

  14. Have you ever read something that spoke to you right where you were at that moment? This post did that for me. I’m a journalist by trade, a blogger for fun, and I’m less than 100 pages from my fourth edit of my first novel.

    My writers’ group just left and I should be finishing the chapter I was supposed to hand out tonight, so I can mail it to them tomorrow. And what am I doing? Goofing off checking my email, then reading a story in Writer’s Digest that led me here.

    Some days it’s really hard to muster the energy to work on my novel at night after I’ve been writing for other people all day…

    Your blog is wonderful, and I will be back when I can spend more time without feeling so guilty.

  15. I love your passion for new activities! I hear that one of secrets to happiness is trying new things, and on days when I get into a work glut, I try to guide myself along new paths just for the novelty.

  16. Eve’s Mom, you are too much. You know, I think every hobby gets expensive when you really get into it. Why, it’s almost as though places like Joann and Michael’s are just after my wallet and don’t care about the joy I get from sewing. No, that couldn’t be! If you finish your fireplace this year, make Eve share a picture.

    Laurie, I’m so glad. Glad you connected with the post–not glad you were procrastinating and feeling guilty, that is. I hope your writers group understood… then again, we procrastinators have a way of doing things just in time so nobody knows how closely we eeked in. I hope you do come back!

    Meredith, I never thought about it that way, but I think that’s very wise. Yay! A retort next time the husb says I shouldn’t do something new. 😉

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