The Things We Do

cork-796138_640Like many of my fellow Soulies, I’m sure, I can’t write all the time, even though I want to. Thus my life is divided as follows:

Things I HAVE to do …

Things I SHOULD do …

Things I WANT to do…

Things I LOVE to do …

Yup, you guessed it. Writing is number four on the list, after the day job, balancing the budget, cooking dinner, grocery shopping, laundry—all falling into the first two categories.

Then there are the things I want to do. I want to read ten times as many books as I do already. I want to landscape my yard so it doesn’t look like a jungle in comparison to all my neighbors’ yards. I want to spend more quality time with my husband, with my kids and grandkids. I want to learn how to speak German. I want to learn archery. I want to seek out and attend every…single…Renaissance festival I can find!knights-769458_640

I want to go to another heavy metal rock concert—and yes, be fully aware that I’m the oldest one there. I don’t care.

Then, last on the list, are the things I LOVE to do. Writing is, of course, number one. Researching for my next novel is right up there. I also enjoy the editing process, the marketing, and making my own book trailers. But I have another passion that has absolutely nothing to do with writing.

I raise freshwater angelfish.

It started as a “what if” question, much like the inception of most of my novels. I’ve always loved angels, mostly because they are hard enough to keep alive, let alone breed and raise. Numerous times in my life I’ve adopted several lovely angels, only to have them weaken and die, from one cause or another. They’re a persnickety species. I never really understood what I was doing wrong.

angelfish-303159_640So a couple years ago, I set a goal: I WILL obtain a breeding pair of angelfish, and rear my own fry to adulthood.

Geez. I should have taken up archery.

Now, there are an obscene number of fish tanks in my house. There are two in my office, and four—count ‘em, FOUR—in my “front parlor,” the room where I also harbor orchids (another eccentric passion of mine). My son calls it the “Circle of Life room.”

I started out with eight baby angelfish in a 36-gallon tank. You see, angelfish aren’t like human babies: their sex is not evident, not even discernible, until they get old enough to reproduce. You know you have a breeding pair when two fish sequester themselves and start trying to kill all the other ones.

Sort of like high school.

Out of the eight original babies, I ended up with two breeding pairs. Fast forward four months, and looky what I got!

IMG_0594There are forty, at least, in my 36-gallon tank, who are now quarter-sized and eating me out of house and home. And who are ready, next week, to take to the local aquarium store, ready to go to their new homes.

Yes, I will cry. I raised these guys from eggs, for God’s sakes!

But as my husband has delicately pointed out, I can’t keep them all. I’ve got another tank with about forty more, two-week-old fry who I feed baby brine shrimp to twice a day. And another spawn ready to hatch, any day, in yet another.

What have I gotten myself into?

Creativity assumes many forms. I create with images when I do book trailers. I create with words when I write. I help create something precious—LIFE—when I lovingly nurture angelfish from eggs to graceful, beautiful aquatic creatures.

And believe me, it’s not easy. Fact: cichlids (that’s what angelfish are) like to eat their young. Only one in four or five spawns ever make it past the fry stage.

But then again, nothing that’s worth anything comes easy. So even if you awaken one morning to find your story is floating, belly up and lifeless, you can’t give up. You’ve made this commitment, damn it. You can attain any goal you set for yourself—if you want it badly enough.


Claire Gem writes romance w/a paranormal twist. Her debut novel from SMP, Phantom Traces, is available in ebook, paperback, and audiobook.PHANTOM TRACES_505x825




About Claire Gem

Claire is a multi-published, award winning author of both fiction and nonfiction. A native of New York, USA, she now resides in Massachusetts, USA with her husband of 39 years.
This entry was posted in Author, Creativity, Inspiration, Motivation, Soul Mate Publishing, Writing career and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to The Things We Do

  1. maggiermundy says:

    This resonated so much. I feel what you are saying about writing. We love it like a painter wants to paint.

  2. Beth Carter says:

    I LOVED this post. So genuine, relatable, and well written. How interesting about the Angelfish. I can’t believed they eat their young!!! They’re beautiful and must be calming to watch.

    It is hard to find the time to write and I’m semi-retired. There are always competing events–holidays, birthdays, graduations, and vacation, too, but it’s important that we carve out the time to do what we love. Go, you, with your creative pursuits.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Beth. Yes, it’s sad, but angelfish, being members of the cichlid family, are quite aggressive. And not candidates for parents of the year! It’s bad enough when they eat the eggs. But many times they wait until the fry to hatch, swim with them for a day or two, then have a feast on them. And I feed them plenty! There’s no excuse, except that’s just the way it is =/

      Actually, the best way, I’ve found, is to remove the eggs after they’re fertilized, and raise them myself in their own nursery tank. Hard to find bottles that small, though 😉 lol

      • Beth Carter says:

        That’s amazing. Right about their not getting Parents of the Year. Lol. I hope you create a character who raises angelfish. It’s interesting.

  3. Wow, you truly are one of the most creative, nurturing people I’ve ever known. Angel Fish, that’s impressive. I love that your son named a room the Circle of Life room.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Tema Merback
    Writing as Belle Ami

  4. Anne Cleasby says:

    Only just got round to reading this – loved it, especially the joint passions of writing and raising angelfish. My teenage nephew keeps them and he gets so upset when they eat each other. They’e beautiful though . . . .

  5. Dawn Ireland says:

    I love the fish/writing comparison, and angelfish are one of my favorite. They are so graceful. Not that I want to add to your “to do” list, but have you ever looked into an organization called the SCA? My guess, you’d be a natural. My husband and I attend Pennsic War each year. You’d like it. (By the way, I’ve also started raising orchids:)

  6. Dawn, I have heard of SCA. On my bucket list. Just not enough time in this segment of my life to add one more thing 🙂

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