By Gina Burgess
I didn’t make up that title, Ann Kroeker did, but it is great advice. But how to squeeze it in?
Oh my goodness, there is so much going on! Christmas cheer, lots of people-crush in stores, and each day brings us closer to, what I believe, is the best holiday of the year: Christmas!
It wasn’t always like this for me. There for a long time I hated the holidays. Well, it isn’t the holiday and what each stands for, but all the rigmarole that goes with it. It is so aggravating (is that spelled correctly?) to have to change plans fourteen times to accommodate all the members of the family.
It wasn’t so complicated when my girls were little and still living under the same roof as me. It wasn’t so complicated when I was little a youngster… well, at least I didn’t notice any complications. Except the day that I bawled and squalled because it snowed and we couldn’t go to my grandmother’s house in Oklahoma. All the roads were covered in ice and snow. My dad put his foot down. He simply was not going to buy snow tires just so we could dash up to Oklahoma (it took 12 hours of driving straight through with two hurry-up restroom stops/gas tank fill-ups and one leg stretching to check weather in Paris, TX but was actually so we could eat bar-b-que at this hole in the wall that looked like it would keel over at the first breath of wind).
Generally, we’d have Thanksgiving just us and then gather with all the brothers and sisters at my other grandmother’s house in Arkansas. That was how you spent the day after Thanksgiving. Then they moved it to the weekend after Christmas. Everybody had spread out, living farther away so more time for traveling. It was okay by me. I got to see all my cousins and aunts and uncles and new babies, you know, great family fun. It truly was fun. None of that kind of so-called comedy stuff where families bicker and fight and call each other names… the kind you see on TV shows. It was always really good fun, jokes, catching up and lots and lots of great stuff to eat.
The fun was sitting on the porch and listening to the brothers talk about the funny things they did when they were kids. It was sitting on the floor behind the rocking chair and listening to the women talk about all sorts of interesting topics which I cannot talk about here. It was racing through the woods and falling in the pond and picking persimmons and trying to eat them without any skin attached or lips and tongue would pucker, and it was swinging on the oak tree swing. Oh, and lest I forget, it was using the stacked bales of hay as forts and falling on my back getting the breath knocked out. It was screaming “Olly Olly Oxen Free.” It was building a dam on the stream and getting yelled at for moving the stepping stones. It was sleeping on the floor under ten homemade quilts because it was 20 degrees outside. It was using the outhouse. It was pumping water. It was wearing shorts because it was 80 degrees in the afternoon. Sigh…
Today, children are grown and my girls are off in two different cities, my sister is in another, both her sons are on opposite sides of the compass, too. Our schedules don’t seem to match and this doesn’t even include all my cousins and, sadly, I only have three aunts and two uncles left in this world.
So what does this have to do with writing? Maybe you can guess…
Building memories and writing go hand in hand. There is a lot going on, but there is also that commitment you made to make a go of your writing. There are several reasons why we should write during the Holidays besides meeting deadlines or reaching our daily word count goals.
Holidays means lots of people in tons of situations. Make notes, study people’s reactions, and try to envision the different points of view. Then write about it. These little insights will prove invaluable in later writing. Not to mention an article or two you can submit to your newspaper, a magazine, or journal. Writing is about people or being that have the same emotions and act like people in the case of fantasy writing.
Christmas is a season that transforms people. I’m quite sure Dickens knew a Mr. Scrooge. Dr. Seuss might have known the Grinch or someone like him. There are quite a number of cold hearts that are warmed by Christmas cheer. These are drastic changes or illustrations of growth which are quite satisfying reading. Yet, there are people whose changes are quite subtle. Watch for that kind of transformation and write about it. It doesn’t have to be a Christmas tale. You could build a complete story around that subtle change.
Therefore, this Holiday season you’ve got a decision to make. You can close down the computer and just rest, enjoy, cherish, and build memories that you can write about later. You can adjust your schedule to include writing time but still find time to rest, enjoy, cherish, and build memories. This could include great things like using family babysitters while you write for an hour or two, lower word count goals, etc. Decide now what you will do and then plan for it. Write down an adjusted schedule and share that with family and friends so they can help you keep your resolve and follow through.