It’s the holiday season, and this is a tough time for most people. For, writers, it’s
peace hell on Earth, largely—though not entirely—due to the whole ‘having to wear pants’ thing.
We authors, historically, have been a misunderstood group of people.
Burned as witches. No holiday there. Survival rate after a political coup? Close to zero. Odds of being shot? Pretty much hundred percent, which correlates closely with odds of keeping mouth shut #FunFact.
Friends and loved ones still invite us to holiday gatherings. Sadly, no ‘burned at stake’ or ‘firing squad’ option. Those require pants, but less talking and no prerequisite to bring some dumb@$$ ‘White Elephant’ gift and a nut-free appetizer.
*makes note to hunt down and murder person who invented ‘White Elephant’ game’*
*Why is the elephant white and not pink?*
*makes note to google that later*
*makes note to put that in novel and kill it*
*along with the person who invented it*
Where was I? Oh yes, holiday stuff. Writers. Why writers should be able to qualify for service animals every year. Holiday honey badgers that bite.
Sips egg nog next to holiday honey badger. No one dares approach. We both leave half lit in Uber. Write glorious prose (me and holiday honey badger). It’s amazing.
While the holidays are hard on everyone, they pose a unique set of challenges for writers. We have to back away from the keyboard, put on pants, and remember what it is to mingle among humankind….
…or mostly why we don’t.
#1: Holidays Are So People-y
Most writers are introverts. We can barely keep up with all the people in our head. And now we have to keep up with real people we can’t control or legally kill, which—trust us—is very frustrating.
If a character doesn’t do what we want them to do? We just toss them off the nearest imaginary cliff.
In life? Good defense attorneys are far more expensive. In a manuscript, we can just write in a billionaire bachelor who falls in love with us and coughs up the attorney fees.
Real life is just such a friggin’ hassle.
In our books, we never have to stand in line or miss a plane. We never have to deal with anyone we dislike that we don’t have the power to destroy.
So, as you see, reality is absurdly inconvenient.
It’s IMPOSSIBLE to ENJOY a holiday when you wait twenty minutes on a parking spot—in the rain—only for someone to swoop in and steal the spot.
Then, you have to park somewhere else…instead of calling down fire from the sky and incinerating them and all they love to ASH.
Seriously. There is zero justice in real life.
No idea why anyone even wants to deal with people without the ability to hex them.
#2: Serial Killers Not a Hot Holiday Topic
While everyone is sending out holiday cards posing with their kids and pets, your tour of the Ed Gein Murder House wasn’t nearly as big of a hit. Hey, you framed it with garland and lights.
That was festive. Right?
Parties are always a struggle (the pants thing again). No one gets your veiled references to Silence of the Lambs because, hey, you did bring a ‘nice chianti’ and a fava bean dip *wink wink*.
While the guys were going on and on about football and women chatting about shopping, all you can think about is how badly you wish you were home watching Dexter.
No pants required.
#3: Pretending to Be Normal
This is enough to make the best of us snap on a regular day. During the holiday season? *weeping* Most of us ended up authors because we finally came to the realization that the ‘Normal Ship’ sailed without us long ago.
Some of us are secure enough to wave that freak flag high…but not all of us.
And even the most brazen of us weirdos do try to at least make an effort to blend in with the ‘norms.’ Seriously, for all the regular people reading this? Y’all have NO IDEA how hard that %$#@ is.
Not correcting poor grammar? That alone should earn us a friggin’ medal.
***Clothes are hung. People are hanged.
When you’re at the gym and the anchor announces there is a serial killer on the loose and you fall off the StairMaster shouting, ‘It’s a SPREE KILLER, YOU IDIOT! Read Anatomy of Motive you mouth-breathing troglodyte!’
Not allowed back at that gym again.
#4: Pay Attention When Others Talking
Most of the year, we writers are fairly good at hiding. Holiday gatherings force us out of our tunnels.
Paying attention to anything NOT a book or writing a book is already tough. Listening while people talk—that isn’t a lecture on the history of stringed instruments or the evolution of bladed weapons—is arduous.
This is particularly applicable to those of us who write full time. We pretty much are always reading, writing, eating, or sleeping. Our world is very much in our heads. Many authors (not all) are also…crazy as a $#@!house rat.
Not a prerequisite, but it helps.
Meaning there are a lot of writers who happen to be ADD, ADHD, OCD, on the autistic spectrum, or who happen to like glitter way more than is healthy (*looking at you Jenn C.*).
I happen to be severely ADHD. Anyway, when you’re ADHD a lot of people believe that you’re like a spider monkey on crack—which is only partially true.
I gave up crack in college.
I’m too cheap to buy crack. Dealers don’t take coupons.
Anyway, we vacillate from being all over to being hyper-focused. When I’m on point, the house could burn down and I might not notice. In order to manage my ADHD, I use A LOT of timers and am a multitasker.
Doing more than one thing keeps me focused. I don’t even pretend to understand it.
So, if I have to do laundry, I will put on an audiobook so I don’t wander off and start painting the bathroom.
If I have to talk on the phone and actually listen to the person, I will fold laundry so my mind doesn’t drift.
This means, I have a VERY difficult time paying attention to people when they are talking if I am not also doing something else. So like I might crochet while holding a conversation.
WHICH, if the other person doesn’t understand? Comes across as me being rude.
Thus, the holiday season is a nightmare because, for me at least, I might as well keep a pocket full of cards reading:
Don’t be weird.
Inside words stay inside.
Remember to liste—OMG! JEFFREY DAHMER!
#5: Hiding Glee About New Plot Ideas
Writers have NO poker face. We are an open book, pun very much intended. Though not a hard and fast rule, we’re right below the chess club and slightly above the mathletes in social ineptness.
So when we hear a GEM of a story idea drift through the conversation at a party….
Yeah that meme floating around about that cat that saw the Christmas tree for the first time? That was fake news. The cat actually was doing the world’s most perfect impersonation of an author who’s just overheard the greatest plot twist EVER.
We get that joyful glazed look where we stop chewing our cookie and crumbs fall onto our chin and down our shirt. At which time the other person laughs awkwardly and says, ‘You’re not going to, like, put me in a book, right?’
Then we (the writer) *fake laughs* say, ‘Gosh! No!’ First of all, writers LIE. We deal in LIES, so don’t fall for it.
Also, as a disclaimer…
You have the right to remain silent or leave us off the guest list. If, however, you invite us to a party, force us to wear pants and talk to people, anything you say can and will be used against you in a work of fiction.
You have a right to preorder. You have the right to buy in paper, audio or hardcover. If you cannot afford the hardcover, the option to buy in digital will be provided for you. Do you understand these rights as they have been written out for you?
In the End
Maybe y’all aren’t as socially awkward as I am. Yes, I’m funny, but I can be overpowering and leave people needing a nap…or a bottle of Xanax. I struggle with balance, tend to talk over people and am…well what is the word?
No, the one that I can use in a PG-13 blog.
I celebrate the holidays in my own way…mostly watching Muppets Christmas Carol over and over until my husband threatens to divorce me.
Then we switch to Krampus.
I’m still a work in progress at remembering to take turns, that ‘inside words stay inside’ and that—SIGHS—‘not everyone wants to talk about autopsies over seven-layer-taco-dip’ (though WHY I have NO idea) *rolling eyes dramatically*.
I’ve come to grips that I will never fit in, never be ‘normal’ and frankly? Normal is a setting on the dryer so *fair flip* WHATEVS….
*flounces off to watch Forensic Files from blanket fort wearing unicorn pajamas*
In the meantime….
Give yourself some goodies for Christmas. PANTS OPTIONAL!
I also have some treats, like a BRAND NEW class I’ve never taught before, and it turned out FANTASTIC. OMG BEST CLASS EVER for my FREAKY FRIENDS!
BTW WE FIXED THE API ERROR! Stripe was giving an API error for some of y’all trying to buy classes and we FIXED that! So get these classes while they are on sale before they are slated for deletion of stuck in cold storage.
ON DEMAND Dark Arts: HOLIDAY SPECIAL Building Your Villain is usually $55 and for the next few days is only $25. Three hours of psychopaths, sociopaths, narcissists, pathology and how that applies to writing.
It is like the Behavioral Analysis Unit for Authors. Tres FUN! Villains are some of the most enduring characters in literature. Why not add your own legends to the list?
I’m also offering ON DEMAND! Holiday Sale! Story Master: From Dream to DONE. This class is to train you how to plot whether you’re a plotter, a pantser or a mix of both. It’s also a crash course in creating dimensional characters.
I love hearing from you!
And to prove it and show my love, for the month of DECEMBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages (5K words) of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or fewer).
In the meantime, PLEASE treat yourself to a class! We have a TON of classes that we will be deleting or putting into cold storage come January and will no longer be available. So STOCK UP while you can.
The BIG SPECIALS (other than what I mentioned above)
Usually $55 and now only $25.
This is a THREE-HOUR class on guns, knives, weapons, fighting, law enforcement (from local cops to international espionage) and more. Everything you need to build a bad@$$—male OR female—and get the details CORRECT.
Usually $75 and now only $40.
Get prepped and ready for the new year, new you, new blog.
New Classes NEXT WEEK FREE RECORDING INCLUDED
Thursday, December 12th, 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST (NYC TIME). Use New20 for $20 off.
Friday, December 13th, 7:00-9:00 P.M. EST. Use New10 for $10 off.
NEW ON DEMAND CLASSES
Use New20 for $20 off
Use New20 for $20 off
Popular On Demand Classes
Use Binge10 for $10 off.
How do we create characters that readers will fall in love with, characters strong enough to go the distance? Find out in this THREE-HOUR class that also comes with detailed notes and a character-building template.
This class dovetails with my previous class: