Novel Progress –
It’s Christmas Eve, for Chrissakes. Even God rested.
Writing Advice: Holiday Angst = Writing GOLD!
Does seasonal affective disorder get you down? Does enforced joy make you grind your teeth? Has it occurred to you that the VERY LAST thing the sleeping baby Jesus needs is a frickin’ drum solo, and it bothers you that it doesn’t seem to bother anyone else?
Well, glad tidings. glad tidings! You can take your “selfish” winter depression and turn it into scribbling fuel! What a present to you from yourself!
Now for many people, the holidays are a winter playground of untrammeled joy, where sugar plums lay them to rest while cherubs stroke their hair and whisper to them about their great and wonderful destinies. They can rest, stuffed past their rib cage with fiddle-faddle and cracker jack while the multi-colored lights form red, blue, and orange stars in their eyes and the little lame balloonman whistles far and wee and eddieandbill come running from marbles and piracies and…
Wow, did that ever get away from me!
Anyway, it’s not like that for everyone. If you are more on the “Scrooge” side of things (the original Scrooge, before he sold out), then there are things you can do that not only help you with your writing; they are also completely legal.
Do some writing exercises! It’s a little more realistic than, say, launching a gloom missile over the homes of your neighborhood, suddenly transforming that old couple down the street who are way too intense about their Christmas decorations into a couple of MCR fans.
Just transform the bitter bubbling of your tar-covered heart into a story. Write out your therapy on paper. After all, paper isn’t required by state law to report on certain notions.
Suppose, for instance, that your parents’ names are Ted and Anna (isn’t everyone’s?) Suppose, for a further instance, that they make Christmas miserable for you. They argue and their presents are the wrong shade of terrible. They enforce “family time” with you and there is no escape outside of spiking the egg nog to force amnesia.
Write a story about them, couched in language, innuendo, and fake names so that no one would ever be the wiser if the story were suddenly to fall into the wrong hands. Be as vicious as you like with it. Viz.
Fred and Mana grinned at M.D., evil in their eyes. Mana grabbed the knife-shaped gift from off of the shelf. “There,” said Fred. “This is for YOU!” He threw the present and M.D. It flew past his head and stuck into the doorframe, making a wobbling sound.
“Christmas eternal!” Mana screamed. “No one can stop us! We will put up and take down the decorations again! And Again! And AGAIN! AND AGAIN!!!!” She collapsed into laughter, leaning against the doorframe to the kitchen, where the smell of burning turkey wafted past her like the rumor of doom to come.
Fred ran out of the room. A loud crash could be heard from the garage. He ran back in with a large, gaily-wrapped object cradled in his arms. The wrapping was candy striped, with a repeating pattern of Santa Claus decorating the paper. Santa was depicted as saying “Ho Ho Ho! Blow Them All Up!”
“You’ll never guess what this is!” Fred yelled.
“Please, Dad,” M.D. said. “There is no need to yell.”
“It’s the HOLIDAYS!” Fred screamed. “Inside voice is for CHUMPS! Now guess what I got you!”
“Humor your father, dear,” Mana said. “Or be subject once more to my debilitating guilt ray!”
“Okay, mom. Dad, what do you have?”
“HA!” Fred screamed.
The end of the package pointing towards M.C. exploded with a loud THUMP, the wrapping paper shattered and strewn about the room like confetti. Thick ropes flew out like snakes, throwing M.C. backwards into a chair. The ropes held him snugly, barely affording him room to breathe.
“That’s RIGHT!” Fred yelled. “I perfected my CHRISTMAS YULETIDE BIND RIFLE™! There is no escape for you!”
Mana ran to M.C. and slid a chair in front of him. “Now you will FINALLY hear the ENTIRETY of my Christmas story about your Aunt Joan and the broken rocking horse!”
(Based on a true story)
If the story is found, Ted and Anna will NEVER be able to put together the clues. You will have written a fool-proof story exorcising your anger while at the same time sharpening your prose. It’ll be all your own.
Unless you publish it. Then the jig is up.
This trick also applies to Kwanza, Yule, Festivus, and Hanukkah (oops, too late!)
Anyway, I hope all goes well with you and yours. If you actually like the holidays, then I suppose this whole thing was a complete waste of your time.
If that’s the case, then say hello the cherubs, ease up on the fiddle-faddle, never trust what a sugar plum has to say to you, and don’t get freaked out when the queer old balloonman whistles far and wee and bettyandisbel come dancing from hop-scotch and jump-rope and the goat-footed ballonMan whistles far and wee…
* Yes, I deserve to be thrashed for that headline. There’s no need to let me know how wretched that title is.