Saturday, September 29, 2012

Signposts and Guides for the Creative Life

"I can't imagine having a hobby." said Yolo.  " I can't either." said Kate.  "Everything I do I want to be essential."  Alice Walker in Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart

"Hobby" is defined as something a person does for pleasure, not as his main business.  It's an interesting word to consider.   On the one hand, to do something that you love, that gives you such delight that you'd do it whether or not you got paid, is an engagement that is to be envied!  How lucky we are to find such a pursuit!  And yet, it is sometimes used as an epithet; at the very least it makes the person whose work has been described as a hobby feel defensive.  We want to put space between our passion and that label.

I remember being at a women's event one evening where we were asked to introduce ourselves by telling one thing that we loved to do.  It was before I'd discovered painting for myself and I think I lamely said that I loved to read.  Further down the table another woman described some activity that she was involved in - some kind of creating.  She said that time stopped for her; she lost track altogether. She forgot to eat.  That caught my attention.  I never forgot to eat!  I'd never gotten so engrossed in what I was doing that I didn't miss food.  I might not be able to stop what I was doing but it wasn't that I forgot about it, that my hunger didn't make itself very apparent.

On occasion, I now know what she was talking about.  I can become totally absorbed in my work on a painting.  Not always, but sometimes.

And yet, I fall into the definition of having a hobby.  I do not earn my living with my painting.  I couldn't even if I tried;  I'm not at that level of accomplishment.   But I take my work seriously.  It is part of myself that I share with others, that sometimes speaks to others.  It is totally essential to being who I am at this point in time.  In that sense, it is my business.


  1. Thanks Becky! I love making jewelry but it is my part-time job. That's why I wanted to learn how to knit/crochet/embroidery. I cringe when people say "You should try to sell this!" when I'm working on a scarf and I reply with "No! I need to do something for ME!" It's so important to have something just for your own pleasure, not to please others.

  2. I feel like I never forget to eat and my weight reflects that!

    But honestly, there are times when I'm so engrossed in working at the torch (I'm a lampworker) that time flies by and I resent all other intrusions in my life. Can't be helped though, I'm a mom and one has to answer the calls of nurture. I find the dismissive attitude toward "hobbies" ridiculous. Most of my friends have always had a unusual creative life outside of their everyday jobs, and more power to them.

  3. I often get lost in my studio until Bill calls to say he is on his way home from work. I then realize that it is 3pm and I've been in the studio since 4-5am. No shower, no food, only my morning coffee and a bottle of water. I LOVE days like that. I've had to few of them in the last few months. No, I can't pay my bills from Tink's. But it is a part of my life that I take seriously and I am very passionate about.