Wednesday, December 8, 2010


This weekend I made pickles. I love pickles and decided that it might be fun to make some. Besides, there's a restaurant in Boston that has the BEST pickles and I wanted to try and replicate their recipe. This may sound gross, but it's SO good - the pickles actually taste like cinnamon. I can't even explain it. So my pickles are a variation on a recipe I found on the Internet with some cinnamon sticks thrown in for good measure. I can't wait to eat them!!

Which brings me to hobbies. When I decided to make the pickles I had to buy everything involved - the mason jars, the pickling salt, the vinegar and spices and even those darn cinnamon sticks. $40 later I was ready to make pickles. 8 pickles. That's $5 a pickle, so they better be good! It seems ridiculous to spend that on pickles. But people do crazier things for the hobbies they love. Like travel to writers' conferences and enter contests with contest fees and spend their free time attending critique groups.

I never viewed writing as a hobby. The day I started my first novel I also started researching agents. Three months later I had an agent and a month after that the book was finished and sold. Yet so many people think writing is a "hobby," like a quaint activity that we do between loads of laundry.

Does something cease to be a hobby once you get paid for it? If someone bought my pickles, would I be a professional pickle seller? I think that lots of writers who have never sold a book take writing seriously. They devote hours to their craft, they invest in conferences where they can learn more about the industry, they endure what can be a frustrating and demoralizing process. But they press on. Doesn't sound like a hobby to me!

I wonder how many published writers thought of writing as a hobby when they started. And how many started writing with the knowledge that they would get published. And that's what made the difference.

Did you start writing as a hobby, something you enjoyed but viewed as a "nice to do?" Or when you sat down to write was getting published your end game?

9 comments:

  1. For most of my life writing was a hobby. It was a fun escape from the mundanities of life--slipping into a world of my own creation. It wasn't until I wrote an entire book without stopping at the third chapter to daydream/edit endlessly that I realized I might have something worth publishing.

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  2. I'm not a writer, but most things I set out to do have a goal somewhere along the way (for example, I learned to crochet so I'd be able to make little stuffed animals for my friends at Christmas). Still, I consider them my hobbies. I think what makes a hobby a hobby is the fact that you enjoy it. If I enjoy making pickles and am paid for doing so, I'd call it a hobby with benefits. If I didn't enjoy pickle-making, but still did it as a way to support myself financially, I'd call it a job.

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  3. I knew even before I started writing a novel that I would be a published novelist someday. I just couldn't imagine living my whole life without being published. I knew I would try until I succeeded.

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  4. Being published was my goal before I typed the first word of my first manuscript. Yes, there were times when I was afraid it would never happen. But, like Jenn, I knew I had to keep going.

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  5. When my husband calls writing my hobby I want to grab him by the throat. (not that I would ever do that, but the thought has crossed my mind. once.)

    Even after getting published I think he still thinks it's a hobby. But I have learned to (try) to let it go.

    Hope your pickles turn out super delicous. :)

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  6. I never considered writing a hobby, either. Publication was always the goal!
    Tomato growing on the other hand? Total hobby. I take you $5 pickle, and raise you an $8 tomato!

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  7. Writing came to me - I never even thought of writing until I woke up one morning with a story in my head and I could not do anything until I sat at the computer and wrote it down. One year and 75,000 words later that story became my first novel. There is a constant dream that an agent will like it and it will be published, but I also went the self-publishing route so that friends and family could read my book - I wanted to share it with everyone. And will do the same with the sequel. Writing is not a hobby it is a passion, something that was hidden deep and long and now I'm enjoying every minute.

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  8. Enjoy your pickles, Jenny! Pickling and making sauces is a new hobby of my husband's. And speaking of him, he loves cars, is totally obsessed with reading up on them, rebuilt his engine for his own car, but it's not a hobby because he makes his living as a mechanic, right? He just gets paid to do what he loves. I think it's sort of similar to me and writing (except he gets paid better and more frequently). Like Kathy, I would call writing a passion more than a hobby or a job. I've always just needed to do it since I was a little kid and deep down even as a little kid, I longed to be published. I dreamed of being like Laura Ingalls Wilder and my mom was taking me to Young Authors events at the age of 8. But while I dreamed about it, I always feared it would never happen. I was kind of afraid to tell myself that I would be published because I was afraid to jinx it. But that's a whole other psychological issue ;)

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  9. J, I knew you were cool but now I think you are really cool! I LOVE pickles! I have always wanted to make them but haven't gotten around to them yet. My grandmother used to make pickles and pickled onions and I literally dreamed of making them with her and sadly did not get to before she died. SHe lived in SOuth Africa so I did not see her very often. I love pickles so much that I started a nonfiction book on them! So sorry, I am all pickles but I love that you used cinnamon to make them!

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