Does it make you come alive?

I was listening to my best friend S talk about her Army volunteering over the weekend and how much she was loving learning all the new skills that come with that area. When she talks about the Army her face lights up and she smiles. It's obvious and beautiful to see.

What makes you come alive?

I replied, "Sounds like the Army is to you like writing is to me, it makes you come alive," without recognizing what I'd said about myself until much later, when I was lying across my bed updating Instagram (and isn't that a job and a half as an author!) I'm super happy for S that she's found this hobby that makes her come alive and for inadvertently realizing that writing is what does it for me.

I've been writing since I was five but I've had a lot of hobbies in between. Usually they fell by the wayside quicker than you could blink. Like the time I decided I was obviously a budding jewelry designer, stocking up on beads and steampunk supplies at Spotlight. I designed some pretty enough pieces but used the wrong glue or couldn't figure out how you actually made a necklace. My pieces were never sold and I only ever wore one or two myself. Making something was both fun and calming but lets face it, ya girl was never cut out to be the next Swarovski.

Not having learnt at all from the jewelry escapade I thought I'd try my hand at making brooches. I love the Erstwilder acrylic designs and figured I could make my own. I found a company who laser cut for you and sent off a design - the Anti Possession symbol from Supernatural. I figured that fans of the show would leap at them and I'd soon be patting pots of money. Naive, Em, naive. Gluing the backs on brooches takes forever, especially when you're huffing in E6000 at the same time. No-one told me you're meant to wear a mask with that stuff until after! When I finally did get them ready for sale Supernatural fans did buy the majority of them but the brooches pages on Facebook remained resolutely unimpressed with my effort. Brooching is a tougher social crowd than Mean Girls, no word of a lie. Unless you're one of the popular peeps your brooches are going to fall on stony ground. It's also possible to fall from your lofty perch above us mere mortals, I've watched it happen!

Next I assumed I'd become a business owner, opening an Etsy store where I'd sell vintage jewelry and clothes. These were mostly finds from my thrifting and I spent ages finding out how to craft descriptions for my pieces before I learnt that marketing on Etsy is expensive and dependent on their hard-to-understand algorithm. On top of that, they take a larger cut than EBay. My little business lasted a year before I finally let the shop lapse. I was never going to be the next Mary Portas.

From Etsy I went to EBay and this was more popular. In fact, I still do have my EBay hobby but it'll never develop into a full time business. Again it's mostly thrift finds and sometimes they sell like hotcakes, sometimes the same products sit for weeks with no movement. The piecemeal nature of it left me looking for something else.

I came back to writing after spending ages watching vintage sci-fi shows and reading tons of vintage sci-fi authors like Asimov, Silverberg and Heinlein. A germ of a story started to bop about in my head and I decided I'd try to write it. My first published novel HUMAN NATURE had been written a couple of years ago at university and I'd had a long break from writing. I bought a novel writing workbook from Etsy and settled down.

Things snowballed faster than I ever thought. I read articles on how you should market yourself as an author as early as possible and decided I'd start while writing ARCHANGEL ONE - my work in progress. Instagram welcomed me with open arms and I quickly found the #writingcommunity. Having little conversations about writing and seeing how other people wrote helped me work on my own. ARCHANGEL ONE became a story that is so visible in my head it often plays like a video and I'm just typing furiously to try and catch up with them. Maeve became my girl and I'm half in love with my own hero (shouldn't we all be?)

The thing is, it makes me feel alive. If I'm stuck somewhere I don't like then I think about how good it will be to sit down later at my laptop and peck out a few words, or I start daydreaming about what scene comes next in my novel. Learning how to market my books and build a presence online through Instagram, blogs and Facebook has been so fascinating and I'm loving everything new that I learn that I can add to my skill base here. Just like S, writing makes me feel alive.

I think there's a lot of people in life who don't have something that makes them feel like this or if they do then they ignore it, push it aside. Maybe they think they'd get made fun of or like it isn't a serious hobby.

 I'm here to say to you, if you love it, do it.

If it makes you come alive or you smile while you're thinking about it, do it.

If you don't know much about the hobby you want to pursue then grab a notebook and write down what you want to learn. Then go ahead and learn it! I didn't know a lot about how to market myself or how to create a following for your writing.

Life is far too short to go through it wanting to do something but being scared of other peoples' opinions.



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