Writing Through the Holidays
As a writer, I write a lot – mornings, afternoons, nights, and in between TV shows I want to watch. I try to make time for my wife and cats, but they all understand, at least the cats do. There are always the inevitable doctor or dentist appointments, trips to the grocery store for food (The cats insist), and the occasional entry into the world of real people to reacquaint myself with actual human beings and social interaction, but writing takes up most of my time (Well, playing music nibbles away a small corner).
Holidays can be tricky events for writers to maneuver, like rapids in a river. It is good to see friends and family, sit down for a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, and remember old times or talk about recent events. It is with such social gatherings that the very fabric of society is woven. I hear some people even venture out on Black Friday, but I write about zombies and apocalypses and have no desire to experience either personally without a weapon, and swords are frowned upon in most Best Buys, though I hear Walmart has a more user-friendly policy.
When writing is impossible, the mind can still function on levels beyond conversation and comments on the mashed potatoes. Entire character conversations can be conceived. Worlds can be created or destroyed. Can Uncle John’s nervous tic become a trait for a new character? Can Cousin Betty’s high-pitched laugh and tendency to slur her words after two glasses of wine make its way into a dinner-table dialogue in Chapter Three? Does Aunt June’s habit of tapping her foot under the table become the sound of a character’s cane along the worn cobblestones on a moonless night in Arkham?
Observing friends, family, and strangers can be an excellent method of adding more depth and realism to your characters. The flow of words during a conversation, or more importantly, the words that are omitted that still allow the listener to understand the speaker’s meaning, can change a dialogue from a boring exchange of words into a spellbinding revelation of information, nuance, and emotion.
Writing is not always sitting at the keyboard or holding pen in hand waiting for the muse to whisper in your ear or, if your muse is a bit heavy-handed, to kick you in the ass. Putting the words on the screen or on paper is important, but developing the story that the words convey is vital. This does not require marathon sessions at your desk. It is possible to create entire novels in your head while smiling and nodding politely, as your second cousin once removed Bob is describing his latest fishing or hunting trip, or the stranger next to you on the train tells you hos lousy his day has been.
Enjoy your holidays. Enjoy your friends and family. Keep writing.