Hobbies, by Guest Author Jamie Ford

jamiesignWe are very pleased to welcome guest author Jamie Ford to the ball today. Jamie is the author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (Ballantine) an Indie NEXT List Selection, and Pennie’s Pick at Coscto, both for February 2009. Jamie will also be hanging out online at BarnesandNoble.com where he will be featured as their New Reads Book Club author for March.

“I collect spores, molds, and fungus.”—Dr. Egon Spengler, Ghostbuster

When asked about hobbies, that quote was the first thought that came to mind. Not because of the grinning absurdity of it all, but because of the commitment involved. (Then again, what else would you expect from Egon, a man who also claimed that the only toy he ever had as a child was “part of a Slinky,” which he straightened).

Personally, I’ve always regarded hobbies as something akin to tattoos; they have a permanence that scares me, and require a dedication that I’m barely capable of. Stamps? Bird Watching? Just not my cup of Darjeeling.

The closest thing I’ve ever had to an actual, honest-to-goodness hobby would probably be my whole “art thing,” which began when my well-meaning, but over-protective parents rarely let me play in the snow, (or rain, or wind, or…you get the point…) so they kept me inside on blustery days and urged me to entertain myself by drawing and painting.

As a result, I actually became a decent artist, good enough to win a gaggle of art scholarships and a fast track to a promising career in which I’d barely be able to feed myself or pay rent. (Thanks Mom & Dad!)

To their credit, and my survival, I later sold my creative soul to the highest bidder and became an art director, and eventually a creative director for a respectable ad agency. There I plied my artistic skills designing ad campaigns for shabby tourist destinations and Medicare plans, among other things. And while I made a great living, friends would inevitably ask, “Do you go home and draw or paint––just for the fun of it?”

** Sigh **

Sadly, once you pimp your wares at the office, it’s hard to find pleasure at home. Hobby-wise, when it came to art, you could say my Van Gogh got up and went.

So what does one do when their one and only hobby becomes their career?

hotel_coverOddly enough, I traded in my paintbrush for another canvas. I began writing—for no one else but me. Suddenly I had a creative space I could run to, lock the door, and dance on the page like a drunken uncle at a redneck wedding. And it was cheaper than therapy.

So writing became my new hobby––creatively an extension of the old. Until my debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, sold to Random House. Then once again, my hobby started resembling my vocation. But at least I get to set the hours.

And if it ever gets to be too much, if it feels like I’ve sold out––if I ever feel like my creative integrity has been compromised in some way, shape, or form, well, there’s this guitar I’ve had my eye on for some time…

Visit Jamie’s website and blog at JamieFord.com.

10 Replies to “Hobbies, by Guest Author Jamie Ford”

  1. Thanks for being our guest today, Jamie!

    I’m impressed by your creativity–art, writing… I’m sure if you had picked up the guitar instead we’d be hearing about your next CD right now… But I know your readers are very glad you decided to tackle a novel. Best of luck with your launch!

  2. “Sadly, once you pimp your wares at the office, it’s hard to find pleasure at home.”

    We’ve been talking about this very thing, this week at the Ball. I’m a journalist by training, because writing was always my “rainy day thing.” I used to think that “someday” I’d write a novel in my “spare time” from my fast track journalism career. Here’s what I failed to take into account: although it’s a different kind of writing, it’s still writing and it’s still creative within its framework, and, well… I didn’t do very much writing at home when I was a full-time reporter.

    I’m so glad you got to find a way to express your art in words, Jamie. Your book sounds amazing, can’t wait to read it (and I know I’ve said this a dozen times, but your cover is stunning.)

    Good luck and happy new year!

  3. Hey, thanks so much for having me!

    Meridith–I actually did try to play guitar for a few years, but my dad taught judo and I kept breaking my fingers. Martial arts + musical career = failure.

    Kristina–That’s so true. It’s may not be the same type of writing, but it comes from the same place. So hard to do both.

    Today is my first book event, a local thing here in town. I can’t wait.

  4. Good luck with your first event!

    That’s so funny about your parents pushing you to a career as a starving artist. My dad once told me he was worried that film school wouldn’t provide me with a way to make a living. His suggestion–that I be a writer. It’s one of my favorite memories, in retrospect, although of course at the time, I was all, “Just you wait, I’ll be as rich as Steven Spielberg!”

  5. Yeah, my parents were weird that way. They really didn’t push the typical doctor…lawyer…accountant career path. Just a little too bohemian, I suppose.

    The event went well today. Wow–exhausting! But in a good way. There were 100 people there for my talk and I think they sold 120 books, plus signed another 150 in stock. Signed posters for corporate people, took photos with staff for their newsletter. General craziness. Local TV coverage too (it’s what happens when you live in a small town).


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