Riding the hobby horse

I am currently on tour to mark the release of A CURIOUS BEGINNING. Regular blogging will resume in October, but please drop by the blog every Tuesday and Thursday in September for posts from the archive. In the meantime, hope to see you on tour!

This post originally ran in 2008.

On an increasingly frequent basis, I’m asked to answer biographical questions, which I dread like a peasant does a plague rat. I don’t mind discussing where I grew up or how I write; I’m an open book. No, the question I fear is What are your hobbies? Because I have none.

I have never been a hobby person. I dabble, certainly. I toy with something just long enough to learn the fundamentals, and then I’m off to something else. (That explains why I once crocheted an 80-foot long chain. I only know the chain stitch.) I have a hot glue gun, knitting needles, beads, embroidery floss, specialty papers, a digital camera, and a truckload of cookbooks, all of which have been used and quietly put aside. I have a madeleine pan from my Proustian attempts to make the perfect scallop-shell cookie. I have a box full of beautiful fabric that would make a spectacular quilt if only I would cut them out and stitch them together. And yet, still they sit.

It isn’t as though I didn’t have good role models. The women in my family didn’t view cooking or baking as a hobby–those were necessities for them–but they did sew, crochet, embroider, macrame, decoupage, collect stamps, keep horses or exotic poultry, and during one extremely trying phase in the 1970s, ARTEX. (If you don’t know the horrors of ARTEX, google it. I dare you.)

Anyway, it occurred to me that I was really tired of trying to make up hobbies for these interview questions, so the other day when I was perusing the library shelves, I made a dive for a book about choosing the perfect hobby. There was even a quiz to determine where my interests lay! I was painfully excited about this. Honestly. I really thought I would answer the questions and there would be a bright light of revelation as my perfect hobby was finally revealed.

Yeah, I failed the quiz. I’M NOT KIDDING. I called my mother to lament my failure, and her response was less than comforting. “Hmm…I can’t think of anything you’d be good at,” she said thoughtfully. (This from the woman who poisoned us all with Artex fumes. I had a headache from the ages of 5-8 thanks to her.) She is unfortunately correct. It’s not that I’m completely useless, but I lose enthusiasm rather quickly. I have friends who are knitters, fabulous knitters who can cable and do Kitchener stitch in their sleep, but I suspect I will always be a person who knits rather than an actual knitter–slow of hands and moving my lips while I read the pattern. I don’t have the patience to stick with something for as long as it would take me to become proficient. (Gemini, table for two!)

But I still have the problem of how to answer interview questions about my hobbies, so I flipped through the hobby book for inspiration. And now, when anyone asks what I do with my free time, I’m going to tell them falconry. Or storm chasing. Or puppetry. Or maybe I’ll just tell them the truth: I spend a great deal of time sitting on my bum, watching television, sipping tea, and daydreaming.

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2 Responses to Riding the hobby horse

  1. Patty says:

    Sipping tea is an excellent hobby. I practice it in the mornings and evenings and I’m excellent at it: fill the kettle, boil the water, pour in cup with either loose leaves or bag, sit, breathe in the aroma, drink, Aah! And when I get bored of doing the same thing, I go to the coffee shop 🙂

  2. Lynne says:

    Deanna – I have lots of hobbies – I’ll give you some of mine. Seriously – great blog and story, even the second time around. I suspect many people feel as you do. And guess what? You wouldn’t be a good writer if you didn’t sit on your bum and daydream. Daydreaming is part of the substance of life!

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