When I tell people I'm a writer, there is usually a short silence of surprise as where I come from it is not a common career path. Mostly it's almost indiscernible, just enough time to think of a suitable reply. I don't blame them. We've all watched writers being depicted in films. They are usually laboured with every negative character trope going. They are either socially inept or introvert (Melvin Udall in As Good As It Gets), flawed (Dix Steele in In A Lonely Place), obsessive (Jack Torrance in The Shining), struggles to recapture or achieve success (Barton Fink in Barton Fink) or/and depressed and lonely (Virginia Wolf in The Hours). Perhaps the latter does not exactly fit as Virginia Wolf was a writer and did suffer from mental illness so I'll use another example - Mort Rainey in Secret Window.
I'm not saying that writers don't suffer from one (or all) of the above as no one has a perfect life... but most of the writers I know are pretty normal people with ordinary lives. How do they prevent their creative imagination (which is capable of creating stories that can involve anything from disasters and murder to finding your perfect soulmate) from causing havoc in their personal lives? How do they stop becoming isolated from society after they have spent thousands of hours, months, years, putting words together in what they hope is an interesting order that will stop a reader from throwing their book in a bin?
They do something completely different to writing when they can spare the time. A hobby is a good way to relax and take your mind off a difficult plotline. So what do they do? I reached out to some of my fellow writers to find out what they get up to.
Berni Stevens is a writer of rom coms and paranormal romances. When she's not writing, she enjoys teaching Zumba (she's the one wearing orange boots)! Berni has been dancing since the age of 7 (ballet, tap and jazz). Unfortunately the teachers did not always turn up, so she decided to take the instructors' exam and become a teacher herself. She now teaches Zumba at least once a week and loves it. Zumba is a dance fitness programme heavily inspired by various styles of Latin Americana dancing styles. But why teach Zumba? Berni says "I love dance, the people in my class love to dance and we have lots of fun whilst keeping fit". Dance as an exercise certainly beats the treadmill in my book! If you would like to try Zumba (or any other type of dancing) there are classes all over the world. Berni should know, she's off to Utah later in the year and will be taking part in a class there!
If you would like to find out more about Berni's books, click HERE.
Sally Jenkins is a writer of a wide range of books, from 'How to' guidance books to psychological thrillers, from short stories to romantic fiction novels. However, if Sally is not behind her laptop screen, she might just be at her Church bell-ringing. It is estimated there are about 40,000 bell-ringers in England, which requires great skill, coordination and cooperation. Sally is there twice a week - practising on a Wednesday and ringing for the Sunday service. When I asked her how she got into it she replied, "I learned to ring when I was 14 because my best friend was learning and she told me there were boys there!". Sally continues to bell ring today, but this time for its benefits as it is both physical and mental exercise, involving stretching, pulling and absolute concentration as the order in which the bells are rung can change. If you would like to become a bell-ringer contact your local church - most towers are keen to have new recruits and will be very welcoming.
To find out more about Sally's books, click HERE.
Anni Rose is a writer of contemporary romances with a healthy dollop of humour thrown in. In her spare time, more often than not, she can be found with a traditional or phone camera in her hand. She takes at least one picture every day. I asked her when her interest in photography began. "I keep coming across a photo I took, which is a headless and legless black and white photo of my father - so at a very early age, but nearly twenty years ago I went to college and took a part time City and Guilds course to improve my skills". According to Anni, taking a picture every day is not as easy as you might think. "But there is sense of achievement at the end of a month when I have managed it", she says. "It's made me more observant and aware of the places I go". She's now currently president of the Southern Counties Photographic Federation and a volunteer for the Royal Photographic Society. There are many camera clubs all over the country (70 in her region alone with over 3000 members who have a wealth of talent and experience and are willing to help new members). So if you have an interest in photography, start taking photos and consider joining a club near you.
To find out more about Anni's books, click HERE.
Morton S Gray writes contemporary romances with a mystery to solve. What many people don't know is that Morton has also been an avid family historian for thirty-two years. Researching the subject is never far from her mind and she does a little each day. When I asked Morton how she became interested in the subject she said, "I started tracing my family origins when I left university and have never stopped. The process of tracing your family history has changed dramatically during this time and now many more records are available online. It is, however, important to remember that not everything is digitised." But how can this interest benefit one? Morton says she's learnt more about the benefits of DNA testing and how this can introduce researchers to new relatives. She says, "I find the past fascinating and particularly how genetics have influenced my traits, looks and choices". If you would like to start your own family history, start by asking questions of the older members of your family, look at any birth, marriage or death certificates they have and above all get them to label their photo collections. From there you can draw up a manual family tree or join one of the online communities such as Ancestry or Find My Past.
To find out more about Morton S.Gray's books, click HERE
Claire Sheldon is a writer of crime thrillers, but when she is not writing she prefers far less murderous hobbies, one of which is playing video console strategy games! From designing and building hospitals, curing illnesses and managing staff, or creating universities, employing staff and managing wayward students, these types of games require decision making and strategy planning. I've tried playing something similar myself in the past which involved a fairground, unfortunately if the wrong decision is made it has a domino effect and my game turned into mayhem... every visitor to the fairground ended up vomiting! I asked her how she started playing in the first place. "After my first royalty statement, I bought Two Point Hospital. Now I play daily". Such games can be intense, but not for Claire. "It's relaxing in it’s own way," she told me, "and it passes the time". There is a large verity of games available to buy and sometimes making your brain work in a completely different way to writing a novel can be more relaxing than one would think.
To find out more about Claire Sheldon's books, click HERE.
Ella writes heartwarming and uplifting fiction. When she is not pulling at the heartstrings, and if the sky is clear, she might just be found star gazing, planet watching or hoping to spot auroras and shooting stars in the night sky. Although we can all look at the dark sky, only a few will know what they are looking at. I asked Ella how she got started. "My other half has always been interested in stargazing..,' she told me, "...so I bought him a telescope in lockdown. I learned a bit as a girl guide and young leader, but he knows far more than me now!" Ella finds the hobby very peaceful, calming - and inspiring. "There might be some shooting stars in a novel I'm working on!" she hinted strongly. According to Ella, getting involved is super easy, just grab your coat and go outside! "There's lots of apps you can use, but really all you need to do is look up!" However, although Ella finds herself engrossed in the universe every time the sky is clear at night, her feet still remains firmly planted on the ground as being out at night can be dangerous. "Just make sure you stay safe in the dark", she cautioned. That sounds like good advice to me.
To find out more about Ella's books, click HERE
What about me? Well, I have several hobbies, but one is being a film extra! My latest appearance (blink and you'll miss me) was in a cosy crime series aired earlier this year on television. The frequency one is required will depend on one's location, willingness to travel long distances, age and physical appearance. I signed up to be a film extra because I was curious about this unusual hobby. You meet lots of interesting people, play dress-up and see how filming on location works. I also get fed for free and paid to do it! The only down side is that there is a lot of hanging around, but as I love to read that can be an advantage. If you want to be a film extra all you have to do is search for an agency who represents extras in your area. Once accepted all you have to do is wait for the call.
I hope I've proved that not all writers are socially inept, introverted, flawed, obsessive, struggling to recapture their initial success, depressed and/or lonely as we are led to believe from the movies. However, such characters can make for a good story... and writers understand that more than most. Now, I'm off to stay in the Overlook Hotel, in the Rocky Mountains. I have a caretaker job lined up and hope to get some writing done at the same time. Apparently the previous caretaker... had a few problems...
To find out more about Victoria's books, click HERE