In Praise of Hobbies

I’m happy to report that I’ve finished the manuscript for my new book and submitted it for review. For people who want to know what it’s about, I have two answers.

The first is, it’s about occupying an equal place in the universe with other beings. This is actually a very difficult problem, but I think I may have made some progress toward sorting it out.

The second answer is that it’s about the process I chose to write it, which was to treat it as a kind of hobby. Usually this term is meant as a put-down, as if to say that something that doesn’t have to happen actually shouldn’t happen. That’s not the only possible interpretation, though. By hobby I mean an activity one can pursue without forgoing any existing obligations — something that doesn’t have to happen, but does anyway.

Obviously these two answers are related, since, in taking the role of the hobbyist, I didn’t write at the expense of any other beings or objects or plans. If I had to fix the toaster instead, I fixed the toaster. Conversely, if I found it easy to review a passage in my mind while actually fixing the toaster, then that passage was probably worth keeping.

Bringing everything up to snuff took longer this way than it might have otherwise, of course, but one striking consequence is that I’m not afraid of what I’ve written, even now that it’s out there for other eyes to ravage. In a strange way, I don’t even feel like I finished it. It just kind of floated away from me.