Friday, 28 August 2009

What do you do with your spare time?

Still plenty of tea, coffee, ginger beer, and lemonade. The fruit cake has all gone, but there is some apple cake instead. And the sea view is equally relaxing.

Indeed, sometimes the view is so relaxing I sit and watch. Which is about the extent of my spare time activity. Once upon a time it was AmDram. Later, I used to do tapestry until I found it too difficult to hold the needle. I also enjoyed long walks (which I often found inspiring), but health (or lack thereof) has put paid to that as well. I still enjoy painting, but we don’t have the room here for me to set my stuff out. So, when I’m not writing, I read. And for a few hours a week I watch the television and listen to the radio. And to wind down last thing at night and switch off that bit of the brain where words spring from, I do a couple of killer sudoku puzzles (and as soon as I switch off the light and get into a comfortable position find words popping into my head, but that’s another post). Heady stuff, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

So, do you have any spare time? And if you do, what do you do to unwind and get away from writing?

Do you hang about like Mike Harrison?

Perhaps you turn to other artistic endeavours: music or painting, for example. Do you do something with your hands (building a boat in your cellar, gardening, throttling the noisy neighbours)?

Or do you just like to get out and socialise with friends?

And do you find that getting away helps you when you get back or do you get withdrawal symptoms once you are more than ten feet from the nearest pen/keyboard?


Liane Spicer said...

Whoo, I'm first. (That's because it's still Thursday in my neck of the woods.) I'll have some ginger beer and a slice of that apple cake, please. Thank you, Graeme. Sea views are my favourite!

For awhile reading has been my most strenuous pastime, but I've started walking again, partly because I'm trying to build stamina to rejoin the hiking/naturalist group I belonged to years ago.

I do a bit of gardening when my mother isn't around since I no longer have a garden of my own. And I spend the odd afternoon hanging with my family and friends.

Gosh, that doesn't sound very exciting. Time for me to walk away from everything and jet off somewhere to start all over. Yet again.

B said...

Mmmmm lemonade :) and apple cake! Thanks!

What an interesting question! All my friends think I'm most ridiculously busy and must spend all my time running round like a whirlwind. But that's just not true :)

I've started ice skating lessons on a Sunday morning. They are great fun. I take a lot of photos - some for the photo site, others just for me. D and I have started going to the pub to watch the football - and we actually went to the match on Wednesday! I go out with friends - mostly for lunch or tea. I read in all the gaps I get.

I go and see bands when decent ones are playing. And I've just rediscovered a goth/alternative night in York that I used to love when I lived there - luckily I have a friend who lives there so I can go down and stay with her :)

I don't go out to the coast very much. I love the coast; I should make time to do that more often. I only live 6 miles away from my favourite bit of coast! And I used to run and cycle; I don't any more, but I want to. I need to start again.

That's quite a lot isn't it? I should stop doing some of that and write more :)

liz fenwick said...

Hmmm....spare time - what's that? With three kids and a hubbie that is in short supply or I should say I don't look on any as spare. I love to cook but that serves a purpose, I love to entertain, I love to walk, love to read (and don't get enough time to do this), love to listen.......

I do get very twitchy if I don't have access to the pc and internet but after a day or so - bliss.

I have learnt recently that everything I do feeds the writing but with the walking I do my best thinking and sorting :-)

Apple cake sounds wonderful, please :-)

JJ Beattie said...

Oooh, apple cake. Even better than fruit, thanks Graeme.

(I just had to sit and work out which activity Liane was referring to: naturalist or naturist. Sometimes I'm a bit slow.)

I read mostly. I like knitting at the moment but that will pass sooner or later and get picked up again in a year or three.

I love to walk but it's (sorry) simply too hot in Bangkok most of the year. Very briefly in December it will be tolerable. There's no respite at night either.

I need to feed my visual brain too. I take lots of photos (as you all know) and I often play with images on photoshop.

I think the non writing things are essential and totally and utterly feed the writing.

Helen said...

I'm afraid writing is done *in* my spare time. The rest of my time is doing the baby/child stuff.

I do love to bake as I find it soothes me and I even have a (more commercial) blog all about cake. I read books as I now write reviews again - this time for Five Minutes Peace.

My life as it stands consists of nappies, Iggle Piggle and the odd bit of writing. But I wouldn't have it any other way. Uh oh, baby crying, I must depart!

Leatherdykeuk said...

I have too much spare time at present and not enough writing being done! I read a little and watch some specific TV programmes, walk the dogs, gardening, painting. Too little, really, and I've put on too much weight.

Fia said...

What a thought provoking post.
And its thinking I do in my spare time. Of course I do my best to think most of the time but its more of the - am I late for work, school,dentist than real thinking.

To lie on the sun lounger (usually with my thick cardie on as the sun is often absent) and gaze at a big sky for half an hour is my fix.

ChrisH said...

I'm not surprised there's no fruit cake left since I had a bit of fruitcakefest last week. Music and reading are both very important, although it's difficult to switch off the writing brain when reading. I'm very fortunate to be able to run along a very beautiful stretch of coastline here and find that running is the activity which clears my head, lifts me up and prepares me for the rest of the day.

Cathy said...

The apple cake sounds lovely Graeme!

I don't have much spare time, the writing has filled it up. I used to do fine cross stitch and embroidery, but like you I now struggle to thread or control a needle. Then I started making greetings cards, but I haven't really done much of that for ages, it is too time consuming. Now I do a little knitting, very badly, and of course I read, though I do have a bad habit of not finishing books because they get picked up and put down so often...

Oh and I waste far too much time on the internet.

Debs said...

I haven't had apple cake for eons, so looking forward to a piece.

I like to unwind by reading, faffing about in the garden, or walking the grumpy one on the beach, as these things clear my head and let ideas in, or storylines get a little more organized.

I'd rather be at home than out socializing, but think that's mainly because I work in a room with 80 other people, and crave the peace and quiet when I'm not there.

Flowerpot said...

Sea view and apple cake sound a good combination to me! Reading is a first for me, so's walking my dog. A bit of gardening.

I love singing but don;t belong to a choir at the moment as I can't find one that sings the sort of stuff I want to sing.

Ice skating sounds such fun - but there's nowhere to ice skate in Cornwall on a regular basis.

I love going to flms, once a month we have a Girls Night and go out for a meal but usually a drink in the pub is a regular unwinder.

Oh and my Reading Group - that;s once a month; had a good natter last night and we're all going to see The Time Traveller's Wife on Monday night.

Just realised haven;t mentioned husband at all. Woops...

Ellie said...

Mmmm, apple cake!

When I'm not reading, which is my main spare time activity, I'll probably be knitting or learning a language. I'm about to embark on a degree in Italian literature, so my 'spare' time is going to get rather limited, but that hasn't stopped me dabbling in Russian over the summer. I'm really only learning the alphabet and a couple of words here and there, but it's a lot of fun!

Lane said...

Apple cake is my favourite. Apple cake and a sea view sounds pretty much a perfect combination.

I paint and crochet and generally fiddle around making things but not nearly as much as I used to. Spare time seems to be in short supply now and if I find some, I'm more likely to just sit and gaze into space or take a nice 'creative' nap.

I'm very impressed with your man Mike Harrison, Graeme. I could never do that. Walking the dogs is my only outdoor pursuit.

Sorry for missing the last couple of coffee mornings and a belated big welcome to our new Racers, Lily, Tam and Dot.

Have a good weekend everyone - long one if you're in the UK.

Graeme K Talboys said...

Which all goes to prove what a wonderfully varied bunch of folk writers are. But reading through again, it does seem that we all do things that don't take us too far from writing or the means to make writing easier by giving the brain a gentle massage.

Mike Harrison, in case anyone was wondering is the writer M John Harrison (mostly sci fi, but he has written a novel about climbers called, er, Climbers). As someone who gets vertigo standing on the back doorstep, I can only wonder at someone who deliberately and for fun hangs off rock faces.

Thanks, everyone, for taking the time to respond.

Lily Sheehan said...

I cant climb so much as a tree so you wouldnt see that under my list of spare time activities. TV plays a big part in helping me switch off but when I need to just chill before bed I get stuck into a good book. That always wipes away the thoughts of the day. I also love to play piano but its been packed away since the move. I do intend to get back to it this weekend though. I also love to geocache. Gets me out and about (and away from the tv!)

Graeme K Talboys said...

Ooh. Geocaching. I've always thought there would be a good story in that.

Lily Sheehan said...

I wrote one for Eurofiction but it wasnt very good. I had serious time issues there so I should really revisit that one.

Liane Spicer said...

JJ, LOL! I'm a naturist too, just not in public. Don't want to scare the horses!

KeVin K. said...

Back when I was on my own I was a naturist on laundry day. (It's laundry day when you have to use a throw pillow to dry off after your morning shower. I was dreadfully stereotypical in my youth.)

My spare time relaxation activity used to be furniture refinishing. I was very bad at it, but I enjoyed the activity. I'd usually find a discarded piece of furniture, strip it down, repair it, see what happened when I mixed several leftover drizzles of stain, give up and paint it, then either donate it to Goodwill or save them some trouble and take it straight to the dump. (When I wrote on the TrekBBS that the first line of "The Monkey Puzzle Box" came to me while I was stripping a secretary without a dust mask, there were half a dozen queries as to why I preferred stripping secretaries who were wearing dust masks.)

These days I usually relax by relaxing. I've gotten good at cat naps and staring idly at views. Or at nothing in particular. I watch more television now than I have in decades (As in dramas and the like. I've always watched random documentaries on Discovery Chanel and History Chanel.) And too much time on the internet. And not enough time writing.

The reason for this lack of stimulating "free time" activity and writing is my day job -- case management for a publicly-funded mental health agency. With recent staff cutbacks I'm now doing more work than ever -- which results in mental and emotional exhaustion. Aware of looming burn-out, I'm making a career move over the next several weeks -- transitioning from management to family therapy team. (The program is called "intensive in-home" and involves a team of 3 therapists and counselors certified in different fields -- I'm the kid guy -- coaching a family as a whole. Usually last ditch before removing children from the home or fist step in reintegrating children who have been in foster care back into their families.) On paper that doesn't sound less emotionally draining than case management, but believe me, admin drains your soul.

I want to get back to reading (reading for enjoyment, not research), long walks with my wife (Actually, just about anything with my wife. Except shopping.), spending time with family and friends, and doing something involving woodworking. Also need to learn French and the guitar, but that's a different story.