Monday, October 1, 2012

Not "Just" a Hobby

by R.S. Mellette

When I graduated from college with a BFA in Theatre I learned a new term, "Theatre Jock." I had spent four years inside of a theatre. With a BFA, I didn't even have to take a foreign language, a science, math, or anything outside of my major. Not only that, but all of my peers were in the same boat. None of us knew this, of course, because we spent most of our time with each other.

After graduation I was at a family reunion telling a story and found that my dad had to translate for me.

"Oh, it was terrible production," I said to some relatives about a play I'd been in. "They finished the set just before strike."

Everyone looked at me funny. Wouldn't it be a good thing to finish the set before going on strike? My dad stepped in. "'Strike' is when they tear the set down after the play is over."

Realization came to everyone. My relatives figured out what I was talking about, and I realized I was a Theatre Jock. Having learned all there is to know about the great and noble art of performance, I would now have to re-learn what it is to be a functioning member of society.

And as time went by, and I slaved away at my career, I realized that I had turned my hobby into my job. This left me with nowhere to turn when I needed to escape work. I found that I had to go out hobby hunting.

And, of course, finding a life outside of the Arts gave me a new angle to view my work. Instead of being an Artist trained to do Art, I became a person with an ability to observe and report on the human condition—of which I was an active member.

For some here, writing is a hobby. For others, published or not, it is a career track. Either way, a writer who only experiences writing doesn't have a lot to say. What gets you out from behind your computer? What opens your eyes? What excites that narrator in your head? What non-writing activity do you have in your life that makes your writing better?

R.S. Mellette is an experienced screenwriter, actor, director, and novelist. You can find him at the Dances With Films festival blog, and on Twitter, or read him in the Spring Fevers anthology.


Matt Sinclair said...

Very true. I suspect that happens in a lot of fields -- not simply the arts. But a well-rounded person makes a better artist.

Jean Oram said...

What? We have to get out??? Er. Um...

I do have some hobbies. I think going on adventures as well as the whole parenting adventure helps me get out and see new things, get ideas, hear different POVs, etc. Those are the big ones for me.

Jemi Fraser said...

So true - we have to live life to be able to write about it! My job (teaching) & my family & other hobbies help me out!

Megan said...

I love looking for inspiration, in nature, in people, in situations. With fall in the wake, the tree's leaves are changing into their warm colors. Oh so beautiful! The problem for me is all the best thoughts & lines come to when I'm in the middle of something else. Reading anything I can on writing (or any literature for that matter; some Poe or John Keats depending on my mood) helps my writing. Pinterest is a great distraction when I feel overwhelmed. Plus I find all kinds of cool projects to add on my list. :)

RSMellette said...

Ah Fall... I wish I could remember what that's like - but it's 110 degrees in the San Fernando Valley today, so what little leaves we have are just turning brown.

Lauren said...

I think that it's really easy to become insular into a community that you enjoy. It's nice that something you love so much to be a hobby can become a job. I like your line "hobby hunting". It's not do-able for everyone, but I always try to take some sort of class, be it photography, writing in a different genre, technical, just something. It keeps me balanced.