On Garlic Farming and Other Hobbies

I don’t usually talk about anything besides writing on this blog. This is not how I behave in real life, thankfully. Instead I spend my time discussing recipes, or my adorable nieces and awesome nephew, or hiking. . . I have an active varied life, that I am very grateful for. I feel like that life very much encourages and feeds my writing in different ways.

When I first started writing as a teenager I was only really interested in two things. The first was reading, the second writing.

When I went to college, I wanted to study creative writing. My father encouraged me to pursue something else. His often repeated advice was ‘If you only study writing, how are you going to write about anything besides writing?’. Instead I took history and Classical Civilizations. A few of my youthful poems are about Greek myths and Roman politicians. Nothing really stuck although it helped develop the researching techniques that I ended up using to write my chapbook.

At some point during college I started to do other things, I became a lot more social,  I started to travel, and went to the gym every day. I think out of all three things, the one that helped shape me as a writer the most was going to the gym. Not because I enjoy the gym, I don’t, but because it gives me an hour every day to do physical activity, while letting my mind drift. A lot of helpful thoughts are formed while working out. It is a safe environment to not pay attention in. If I did the same thing while walking or running in my neighborhood, I would have certainly been killed by a car by now.

I think physical activity that doesn’t use the mental part of my brain involved with writing and reading is very helpful. I also very much enjoy long hikes and backpacking, but generally talk more during these activities, which generally generates different types of ideas, often ones for becoming more focused.

My uncle and Aunt have a half acre of land in which they grow a great deal of garlic and some other things. When Jacob and I help out, I don’t come away from the farm with a lot of ideas, but I leave mentally refreshed.

I think it is important to have a full life outside of writing and working but also to be aware of how the different aspects of your life affect each other. When I was still living in Toronto, before Graduate school, I stopped writing for a year. There were a variety of reasons that happened. I was busy working towards a graduate degree in theology, I was very sick, and I had far too many friends. My social life was overwhelming and not very productive. People would phone me at 1 in the morning, and I would hang up the phone just to get another call at 2. It was a very strange time for me. Even when I had time to write, I found myself incapable of doing so.

In order to change things I moved to a different city, where I knew very few people, and started focusing on writing again. I started to work on balancing my life. I made sure that I was doing enough to fuel my creative sprite while still having time to put my new ideas down on paper and edit them. Over the years I have always worked on adjusting that balance and I will probably continue to tweak it as time goes on. But the most important thing for me is that I give my thoughts time to percolate, to grow, while I do other things.

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