Sunday, December 20, 2009

Excuse Editor's 12 Edits of Christmas

It's the holidays! We shouldn't even think about our writing now, right? Wrong. There may be no better time of year for your writing than right now.

1.Better to Give than to Receive
This time of year you think about generosity toward others. But what about the characters in your novel? Don't they deserve some time and attention as well? Add them to your list. Give them a gift of a new setting or plot twist.

2.Home for the Holidays
 You may be looking forward to time spent with your family for the holidays. Or it may be driving you back to the egg nog again and again. Either way, pay attention. Take a step back. Let the writer in you describe the emotions. What words best describe the feeling in the room when the joyful toddler shreds the wrapping paper. What about when that one crazy cousin digs up a past event best left buried? Later, alone with your pen, a memoir might surface, or a character may discover a secret.

3.Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus
Surround yourself in the Magic. Rediscover your child-like sense of wonder and hope and let it guide your writing. There was a time when you believed one night was long enough for one person to bring smiles to millions of kids. Ignore your adult defined limitations for a while and believe that the time you have is more than enough to build your own creation.

4. A Christmas miracle
You have been given a gift. A calling to create. Follow your star. Have faith in your own daily miracle of creation.

5.Deck the Halls
The foundation has already been laid. You have drafts piling up as high as the snow drifts outside-- short stories, poems, your novel, your memoir. Pour a cup of hot chocolate and start reading. What can you do to spruce up your story? What do you need to rearrange to make it feel more like the season of your story?

6.Dashing through the snow
 Spending hours in the car, bus, plane, airport? Perfect. Pull out that notebook and write. Unless you are driving (or piloting), of course. Airport delays? You have no excuse not to write then. There are only so many Cinnebon's you can eat.

7. New Year's Resolutions
 Let me guess, you resolve to "get healthy", or some variation. Make sure to have healthy goals for your writing, as well. Make them more specific: instead of "write more" say, "Write at least five pages (or hours, etc) a week".

 Do you know much about this holiday? I don't. Let the season be a reminder that there is always so much to learn and so many different ways to view the world. Research a place you've never been and use it as a setting. Try to take on the point of view foreign to your own.

9.Charge it!
As you spend your hard earned cash this season, consider a few things. If you want to write for a living, or for a supplemental income, are you doing all you can? Do you keep a continuous stream of submissions and queries active? Do you focus on paying markets, or at least those that will give you enough recognition that it will be worth writing for free? Are you willing to give yourself a Christmas bonus this year: time and supplies to better reach your writing goals?

Don't let any of your unwanted Christmas gifts or rejection dampen your spirits. Enthusiasm causes expectations to be high, with the holidays and your writing. You thought it would all turn out perfect, and then, you get a negative critique or a "sorry, not for us" note. Just realize, it is part of the tradition. Set the chilly rejection to the side and move on. Spring will be here before you know it.

 Maybe you are worried that your writing is "too strange" for some people, that instead of seeing your work for its originality, others will view it as an invitation to ridicule. They may. But, at some point, someone may see the worth in your imagination, and decide that more need to experience your ability to shine the light in a new way.

12.Peace and Joy
Finally, allow the season to remind you that the stress, heartache, and costs associated with writing are necessary struggles to get to the ultimate goal: a feeling of peace and joy with your writing. Just like that crazy uncle you have to deal with once a year, the one who drives you bonkers but you love anyway, your sometimes misbehaving writing means well. You can't help loving it and will continue to honor it as such.

What are your favorite holiday stories? These may not be the same ones found on the TV year after year. Maybe they're the ones that are told around the kitchen table, the dishwasher humming in the background, while your loved ones sit with bloated bellies and just one more piece of pie, talking about the time Grandma tried her first margarita and missed Midnight Mass. Or the Christmas after Grandpa's stroke, when he fell down hard because he refused to use a walker, and yet still managed a snappy retort: "I don't need a walker, I need a parachute!"

Writing is a way to keep memories alive, no matter what the season. So make it a part of your holiday tradition. You'll be grateful you recorded the musings of a loved one, or the disposition of your mind when you wrote that short story.

Have a blessed holiday.

P.S. Miss you, Gramma and Grampa...

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