Writing As A Hobby

Observatory, Reading & Writing

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Every writer has projects that didn’t happen filed in his drawer. I have quite a few, and over Christmas, I threw out some that I knew would never get realised. But there were a few I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of. The funny thing is that most were written as hobbies, something I felt like doing without thought of recompense.

Among the film scripts I hung onto was the one for ‘Rainy Day Boys’, a story I wrote a few years back about a pair of slackers who accidentally kill someone. It was once filmed by a young director in Canada, although he somehow failed to capture the peculiarity of language in the script that made it funny. There are also scripts for ‘Disturbia’ , ‘Breathe’ and ‘Psychoville’, written for fun, and the latter nearly saw light of day, getting as far as pre-production and announcement posters before it was canned.

The ‘hobby script’ I regret losing most is ‘The Waiting Darkness’, a film developed from a novel by Margaret Bingley, about a woman’s search for the perfect family that became so obsessive that it ends up destroying her life. The book was rather old-fashioned (to be fair, it was written for an earlier time)  but there was a brilliant idea in it that I felt could be modernised. I took the supernatural element and tried to imagine it in a new way, like a disease that sometimes goes into remission. It ended up being an incredibly dark and uncomfortable way of viewing the material. The ‘ghost’, such as it is, resurfaces in the family like a virus in the blood.

It quickly went from ‘hobby’ to ‘project’. I produced many, many versions for TV companies, and they always balked at the scenes in which an underage step-daughter seduced her new father. Now, given TV’s more sexualised content, this would not be such a problem, but I don’t think I could bear to revisit it, and the script is in a drawer where it will probably remain, a reminder of the pain I went through getting it right.

There are two early complete novels written for fun (typescripts – remember those?) which I can’t even bring myself to look at. I think they’re probably very bad indeed and hyperventilate at the thought of reading them. And now there’s a pile of short stories building up that simply have no home to go to, because the market for single-author collections has all but vanished. They were written for something to do on a rainy day.

Do writers still write for the pleasure of it, without the intention of ever finding an audience, in the same way that a schoolteacher will head down to a harbour with an easel and a box of paints? I’d like to think so, but with so much of a demand on our time, perhaps there no time left for a mere hobby.

7 comments on “Writing As A Hobby”

  1. Matt says:

    Yes I write for myself and without the thought of things ever reaching anyone other than perhaps a nosy partner or someone who finds my rambling when clearing my house after my death.

    I still say there is a market for short stories by single authors, self publish to kindle and see how many you can sell or give away. After reading this item on your blog I am left with the feeling I need to read some of your unrealised projects…..

  2. Ken Murray says:

    Chris I think you subconsciously described the desire to write, even when there appears to be little gain, when you outlined your story The Waiting Darkness?

    I guess if you are of an artistic bent, then the need to create (be it prose, painting, music etc..) is very much like a chronic disease. Often lurking just below the surface, ready to break out and affecting every facet of our daily lives. It’s probably the only disease where remission is least desired.

  3. Mim says:

    I think some do – I’m not a writer but have friends who are, and are published, and one occasionally puts short stories on his blog. I always think they’re little bits that he has to write down, regardless of commerciality or professional purpose.

  4. Dan Terrell says:

    Great topic. And, yes, writers must still write for the pleasure of creating and to “get it down on paper” and out of the mind. I find that sometimes writing is the best snapshot of them all. It’s what impressed itself on you, what your mind chose to remember, and how you interpreted what you saw, heard and thought happened.
    I have much of what I’ve written, somewhere, and although I would undoubtedly feel uncomfortable reading much of it, it is still a source from a certain age, time and place and may be useful. Want to write with a child’s point of view, read something you wrote as a child and it may get you going. Since I didn’t try publishing while I was in the Foreign Service due to the long approval trail, I have a lot of written stuff, photographs, and clippings, pamphlets, books, etc. I hope all of this material is now a portal back for my current writing.
    The stories or sketches I wrote while in Afghanistan may yet see the light of day, now that all the world has heard of that still isolated country. Major Azzimi of the Kabul Police may yet climb out of his storage box.

  5. Joel Kosminsky says:

    Yes of course people (and me) write for pleasure. I may never be published – been trying (in every sense) for over forty years with just one short story success. But – what do you do with the idea which won’t go away, which bothers you at 3am when sleep is a much better idea? So you write, if only for peace of mind, if only to see how the idea works out, if only to keep off street corners (which does hinder ‘research’ a bit). At least there’s the satisfaction of completing ‘that idea’, and maybe keeping the day job really is a better idea. Until the next idea which won’t go away. Like the ‘detective’ who has been haunting my mind since 2005.

  6. Helen Martin says:

    I think Joel probably has it. Even I write sometimes and there’s one I revisit every once in a while. If you hyperventilate just thinking about those typescripts get someone whose judgement you trust to read them and then, if he thumbs down on them, throw them away. That is so hard to do because just as soon as you do the one thing that would make them viable will occur to you, except you now don’t have them…. forget I said anything.

  7. Shuku says:

    I’ve still got Nanowrimo manuscripts that I think I want to do something with, then I remember I can’t write. But I still do anyway, even if it’s crap prose and crap poetry, if only to exorcise the ideas.

    And then I hide them and try to pretend I never, ever wrote them.

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