I have never really been much of a hobby person.
In high school, I would jump around from thing to thing. I had my regular extracurriculars (choir, theater, and church) that I did for years, but when it came to actually doing things in my spare time, I liked the idea of hobbies but not the practice. I would dive into something, like my very short lived yoga phase, become obsessive for a while, get a bunch of stuff for it for birthdays or Christmas, and then promptly give it up. Even the big ones, choir and theater, I have since given up. I haven’t done a show since my freshman year of college and barely sung a note since college graduation (other than at church–that’s stuck, though I’m not nearly as involved as I used to be).
But one hobby has lasted as long as I could do it up until now, and that’s writing.
I wrote my first “novel,” scribbled in several wide-ruled notebooks, when I was in second grade. It was about “bookomon,” little creatures that encouraged kids to read instead of playing Pokemon (this was obviously during the height of the late 90s Pokemon phase, which I didn’t understand; I was a very pretentious eight-year-old apparently). I have long since stopped writing about “bookomon,” and in fact, my eight-year-old self would scoff at the 27-year-old who now plays Pokemon Go with her husband and daughter.
While I have unique challenges as a chronic illness parent, what isn’t unique between me and most parents is my struggle to try to continue doing things I love after becoming a parent. While many of my posting topics are specifically to resonate with chronically ill parents, the struggle of keeping up with one’s hobbies is a near-universal one. I, like many parents, have gone through phases that ebb and flow in the rivers of parenting when it comes to balancing my hobbies. When Snowy was born, I was in my second semester of grad school, so I barely had time for writing for fun at all.
My writing finally picked up towards the end of grad school. I graduated in May of 2016, and prioritized writing a draft for the novel project I had been dreaming about and dabbling in for a few years. I finished a draft that October. Much of it was written on a ten day vacation with my family, when there were extra hands on deck to watch Snowy so I had a little extra time to squeeze in writing.
I have always dreamed of being a published novelist since I learned what once was, way back in 2nd grade. Creative fiction writing has always been my first love. But writing a novel takes tremendous mental effort and time. It is almost impossible to have extended periods of concentrated focus when I am working full-time, balancing multiple chronic illnesses that cause fatigue and brain fog, and have a young daughter. I made it to the point where I have an edited draft of my first novel, and am hoping to self-publish soon, but it has been a very long, slow process. I love writing, but it isn’t able to be my primary focus right now, and I accept that. When Snowy is older, I am sure I will have more time to write, and I cherish the time she and I have together now.
One of the main ways I make time for writing is by writing on my phone. I used to like writing everything by hand in a notebook, and then transferring it into a typed document, editing and embellishing as I went. This wasn’t working when I became a parent. When I use my phone, I am able to write anywhere. I have Word on my phone, and do most of my novel writing and editing from it.
Blogging has given me a new outlet to be able to write, and is a format that makes writing more accessible to me as a parent. I don’t think I’ve ever written a blog post in one sitting. I write a few sentences at a time, save it, and come back to it. For blogging, that’s a format that works much better than for a novel. Less concentrated thought is needed for this type of writing.
My dream is still to publish a novel series, though the second book has only a few paragraphs written. But I know there is so much time ahead of me to pursue it. Snowy is our only child, and she is growing up fast. Blogging may not be my very favorite kind of writing, but it gives my hobby a good outlet.
I think finding a “compromise” in practicing one’s hobby while in the thick of young parenting has been the number one way I have been able to continue writing. I know that writing is good for me. It is something I love to do, and I feel like something is missing when I’m not pursuing it. At the same time, I can’t write like I used to and would like to, so I blog instead. I know a lot of people who have changed their hobbies in this way to accommodate the season of life they’re in: doing short runs with a jogging stroller instead of the marathons they’re used to, for instance. It’s been an adjustment, but I am glad I don’t have to give up what I love.
Do you have any hobbies? How do you balance them with parenting and the rest of your life?