November 24, 2015 by Gregory Josephs
The Holiday Hurdle and Thankful
If I’m being perfectly honest it doesn’t feel like I had a very productive week. I guess the key word there is feel because the evidence suggests otherwise. I finished writing Chapter Thirteen and I’ve been busy doing a further revision of Chapter Twelve which is now done. There were some plot elements and a little bit of backstory I needed to retrofit in order to move ahead with Chapter Fourteen. I’ve done a lot of thinking about my characters—Meredith in particular—and I think there is some really great stuff coming up. Well, maybe not great for Ryan, but great for the story. So yeah, I guess actually I did get a lot done, its just not as much as I’d have liked. I wanted to be done with Chapter Fourteen already. I suppose I was looking for quantitative progress when really most of what I’ve gotten is qualitative. Thats better in the end, but right now I’m all about number of words on the page, so it doesn’t feel like much.
And this week is Thanksgiving—my absolute favorite holiday (except for Patriots Day, but those of you reading outside of Massachusetts won’t even know what that is). We’ve got family coming into town and we’re hosting and my heart could absolutely burst with the excitement of it. I’ve got pies to bake and bread dough to start. We’re doing a dry-brine for the turkey so that has to be all put together by Wednesday night—
Then on Friday or Saturday we’ll have our annual tree-trimming thing. The holiday season is a lot shorter than I remember it as a kid, so once Thanksgiving is over its full-steam-ahead Christmas in this house. If we don’t get the tree up right away there’s almost no point because we won’t have any time to enjoy it. Both of our families live away and we’re on an alternating Pennsylvania-Colorado schedule. This year Christmas is in Colorado but we’re going to make it to Pennsylvania for a few days before the new year. Suffice it to say with the exception of one night in our own bed we’ll be traveling for a third of the month of December.
Things are going to get crazy. Its going to be a lot of fun. Its not great for writing though.
In fact Thanksgiving has traditionally proven to be a death sentence for TEORG. I find I am most productive in the autumn. Going all the way back to my very first post A Place to Begin I spoke about how a long and luxurious fall stretched out in front of me full of possibility. This vision has been realized in a huge way, and the winter provides another long unbroken block of time in which to write and create. However—
There is this hurdle of the holidays. They threaten to break the momentum. All of a sudden instead of spending my mornings writing I’m baking pies and Christmas shopping. The weekends are filled with parties and shows. My work schedule changes to a 9-5 the week before Christmas and all of a sudden there just isn’t time to get any words onto a page—bad news for the quantitative goals. Then once all the traveling is done I’m left reeling—trying to find my creative footing. Suddenly its mid-January and the writing habit is well and truly broken.
Well, not this year. Not this time!
I’m better than all that. I’m prepared! My tireless journaling over the past ten months has proven I can write under adverse conditions. Sure, I might not meet my goal of 2,000 new words a day but I bet I could squeak out 500 while the pies are baking. I might go three or four days without touching TEORG, but on that fifth day? I could revise a scene or two from an upcoming chapter. Maybe I’ll pull the laptop out on the plane and have some sort of creative epiphany while flying over Des Moines. That would certainly be better than watching reruns of ‘Criminal Minds’ on a six-inch screen on the back of the seat in front of me.
Its going to be a struggle, but its going to be worth it. If I can make it through this next month all the distractions and outside obligations will fall away. Finishing TEORG in the new year will be easy.
In terms of reading, all you should ever experience of this upcoming struggle is in today’s post. Chapter Twelve is ready but I’m going to hold on to it until Friday, December 4 on account of the holiday—hopefully you’re too busy to read it this weekend, so we’ll skip it. Then Chapters Thirteen and Fourteen will bring us up to the Friday before Christmas. I’ll skip again and resume with Chapter Fifteen on January 1. From that point forward—writing muses willing—there’ll be no more breaks until I’ve finished the damned thing.
Enough about that. In the spirit of the holiday here are some things I’m thankful for:
My husband. First and foremost. He is the constant—the thing that ties me to earth. When my tireless, creative and inquisitive mind drifts too far out—when I obsess—he pulls me back in. Its a good thing. Its necessary. Without him I’d probably have floated out into space a while ago. I could be halfway to Mars by now.
My friends—the people who will unflinchingly put a three-month-old piece of bacteria-laden spoiled milk solids into their mouth with no concern in the world, just because I made it. They’ll even tell me its good (it is good) and then happily go in for another piece. Seriously though, I am so lucky to have a close group of people to dote on, console, laugh with and be challenged by. The people I’m surrounded by support me unconditionally and thats a big deal—they’re all invaluable.
I can’t forget about family. I’ve got two young, strong parents who taught me a lot about independence and self sufficiency. Their courageous cross-country move in the late 1980s and the subsequent truth it uncovered—you can be close to family without living close to family—gave me a similar courage when I made my cross-country move a decade ago. I’ve also got two younger siblings. We don’t see each other often, but when we do I get this great sense of comfort when I realize how perfectly we are cut from the same cloth. Our interests are very different, but so many of our mannerisms, attitudes and beliefs are the same. And in each of us exists the same burning creative drives. We’re a little family of artists in both the loosest and strictest senses of the word. When I’m around them I feel I’m in good company. If I ever did find myself drifting in space toward Mars—hell even some other galaxy—there’s a good chance I might run into my brother or sister at some point along the way.
And in-laws. So many people are cursed with terrible in-laws—families that don’t support or even like them. I kind of won the lottery here. I love my husband’s family. They wrapped me up and brought me into the fold the first time I met them. Now, nearly six years later its hard for me to remember a time when they weren’t my family and my life is richer for it.
Cats. I’m so thankful for cats. Our two are my constant companions. Really, I’m never alone—the boy in particular follows me from room to room all morning so he can sleep next to me whatever I’m doing. He sounds sweet but he’s actually a royal pain—up all night yelling and yowling, literally climbing the walls. He’s jealous and mischievous and harasses the hell out of his sister. Lately he’s taken a liking to shower curtains. He’s always loved plastic, but shower curtains are apparently a particular delicacy. Even so, I wouldn’t trade him or his sister for the world. They make this house a home and fill it with warmth and energy.
Oh there are so many other things. A quick laundry list might include (in no particular order) music, cheese, swimming, wine, the French language, old books, new books, this house, my job, coffee, bicycles, sunshine on really cold days—
And I’d go on but two things strike me.
First of all, this post is 1400 words long. The word accountant in my brain would call that a huge quantitative victory for today if it was applied to TEORG. Its not, but it sort of proves the point doesn’t it? I’ll find the time to get over this holiday hurdle if I make the time.
Second? I’ve got to go bake some pies.