Used to be, I would have a crummy day, or the kids would do something atrocious, or I'd do something embarrassing, and I'd throw open my laptop and pour my frustrations and angst and whatnot onto the pages of my blog. If I could spin it and turn it into something to laugh about, I loved it and was happy. If I couldn't make it funny, I'd at least have gotten my thoughts out there, and I'd be relieved. In either case, I could count on at least a few people to read it and tell me I'm okay/I'm funny/I'll survive. Writing was an outlet, the relief valve that I could turn and let off my stress, my concerns, my thoughts.
Used to be, I'd come up with a topic to write about - in the shower, while driving, during a particularly boring talk in church - and I'd positively skip to my computer to let the inspiration pour from my mind, through my fingers, all over the keyboard. I'd walk away from an experience like this spent but elated. Writing at those times was fun and fulfilling - it was what I imagined writing was supposed to feel like.
It's not feeling that way anymore. I think I'm killing writing.
Lately, writing itself has been kind of stressful. I know it's this class I'm taking - the professor's goal is to get us writing not just well, but in prodigious amounts. Plus, everyone writes about these serious, dark topics which give their essays an emotional punch even if it isn't well written. Curse my luck for having a pleasant childhood! I have two and a half weeks left and I still have another 10-12 page essay to write, along with revising the two I've already written. Anytime I'm not writing (which, as a mother of four, is frequently) the pressing weight of my writing obligation is smashing down on my chest.
I know what the problem is: I've turned my hobby into my job.
I told Ryan this tonight and he laughed out loud. "Welcome to the club!" he said. Ryan learned Flash animation as a hobby, something to do in the evenings while I read. Now, of course, it's his full-time job and he's once again hobby-less. Granted, he gets paid decently to do his work/hobby so he's not complaining, but he's back to staring at me forlornly if I want to spend an evening on the couch with a book.
What used to be a creative outlet is now a requirement. I've got a boss and co-workers and deadlines and a never-ending performance review. I'm not saying I want to give up writing or anything, and I recognize that it's hard right now because I'm learning and (hopefully) improving. Theoretically it will get easier and my writing will get better. But for right now, my stress-relieving crutch isn't working, and I'm walking around like a gimp.
So I'm searching for a new hobby, or maybe a revival of an old hobby. Something creative. Something tactile. Something that I can do for an hour and then look at the thing I've produced and be proud of it. I'll take suggestions if you have any. And any ideas for a 10-12 page essay, preferably something about a tortured childhood, let me know. I'll split my paycheck with you.