This is one of those mornings when I sit down at the keyboard, listen to the coffee finish brewing, glance out the window to judge the morning weather, and wonder what on earth I should put on my post. My father-in-law, RALPH KENNON, had a saying he was fond of, under such circumstances. “You did that to yourself.”
Truth is, I have been doing this to myself for a long time now. A freelance writer has to get up each day, hear the coffee perking, look around, and come up with something to write about. It’s training more than talent, I know, but I spend a lot of time looking for and finding the buds of stories. If you follow this blog much you may have read it on a day when JANE YOLEN came busting through with an abrupt announcement about something I’d said. “You know that’s a book. You’re welcome.” And off she sailed to think of ten more books of her own.
Seeing stories wherever we look are finger exercise for a writer’s imagination. We’ll never tackle them all of course. But once in a while something special comes along. Excitement builds. You put aside what you are working on, even if it has a deadline, and fall madly in love. I’ve had people tell me how nice they think it is that I have a hobby that brings me so much pleasure. I asked Merriam-Webster to explain the word hobby. “An activity that you do for pleasure when you are not working.” Another source gives the example: “His hobby is writing. Hers is gardening and swimming.” Hobby is a perfectly respectable word. I’ve had and enjoyed many hobbies. But what serious freelance writing is not is a hobby. It isn’t an activity that one picks up and puts down on a whim or as leisure allows. It’s simply what one does.
Whether it’s a hobby or something else, what I love most about writing is how frequently it surprises me by how it turns out. Like this morning, for example.