Maybe you’re a full-time writer who, like Stephen King himself, sits down at nine a.m. every morning and begins typing away until the end of the workday at five p.m.
And if the above sounds like you, then this article may not be your cup of tea. I am not this kind of writer, but in no way do I look down on you in judgment.
On the contrary, I am in awe and just a shade jealous.
Why? Because something keeps me from writing so dedicatedly.
Ok… maybe many somethings. And not all of them are external.
You see, I am as of yet an unpublished writer — which, according to my published friends, means nothing and is a hang up of the unpublished. They remind me again and again that one day, when my books sit nobly on the shelf between Sheldon and Sophocles (I imagine this is a sort of devil-may-care bookstore, where all genres blend and bend together) I will realize that being published and being unpublished does not define whether or not I am a writer and that despite my insecurities, I have really been a writer all my life.
But for now, the reality is that I am unpublished — and this distinction means I must keep other fires roaring, or else me and my family will be left out in the cold.
(This is both an analogy and not an analogy, as we Alaskans know, heating isn’t free — or cheap.)
And yet, while I do have these other responsibilities that do not wax and wane with the year… work, a child in school, family, friends, an enormous St. Bernard who still can’t be trusted alone for a moment… for some reason I find myself remarkably less productive around the holidays, regardless of whether I have the time to write or not.
Which I do. Let me make that clear. There are still hours that could be filled with writing…
But is it just me, or do the holiday hours simply beg to be filled with nonsensical, holidays tasks?
Let me paint the picture of this last December.
My work is done, my child and her friends are fascinated with a new imaginary game, all chores are complete, and I have two hours to kill.
…Time to write?
When was the last time we made a gingerbread house?
Why don’t we all go outside and build a snow man?
Did they hot-mop Westchester lagoon recently? Maybe we should go ice skating!
…isn’t there something?
Some present to wrap? Some neighbor to visit? Some long-forgotten family recipe we can resurrect only to half-heartedly consume (and subsequently remember why we stopped making it in the first place)?
On and on it goes, and this is how in the entire month of December I found myself adding a measly 1,935 words to my current novel.
And… the entire point of my blog post this month… which is why January is such a gift.
Because after an entire month of wrapping and baking and avoiding my work I can’t help but find returning to writing refreshing.
Like a breath of fresh, crisp air after having been hours in an overly warm kitchen whose spices and joys were at first enticing but have suddenly turned intoxicatingly overwhelming, I am turning back to my mind, my stories, my writing.
Now there is the quiet of the house (no more holiday music), the click of the smooth keys beneath my fingers (no sticky tape, powdery flour, or icy snow), the solitude of my own mind and my own stories.
Far and away are the pressures of another chat, another party, another song, another game… of more and more and more.
Not today. Not January.
January free time is just me, and my computer, and my stories.
Honestly, I will probably never be Stephen King kind of writer — and really, I find myself more in tune with the Danielle Steele way of writing, who I read once sits down first thing in her nightgown with her cup of coffee and writes away until she decides she’s done.
I like that.
I don’t want to write until some set hour on the wall tells me I can leave.
I have a job that makes me do that. I have a daughter I have to put to bed at a certain time and cyclical responsibilities that pin me down and tie me up most hours of the night and day.
But writing isn’t that for me, writing is freedom.
So, I write when I want — and sometimes that means ten thousand words in a weekend, and sometimes it means I spent the weekend with friends and family, playing too much Clue and failing multiple times at making homemade gingerbread.
December tends to be more the latter than the former, but now it’s January…
And it is time to write again.
Lindsay Belle (or LB) Sobolik is a writer and artist with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and a professional background in non-profit work, video-game journalism, and commercial investing.
When not writing or painting, Lindsay Belle is also a yoga teacher, Waldorf parent, and enthusiastic hiker/forager who lives in Anchorage, Alaska with her husband, daughter, enormous rescue dog, and tiny rescue cat. www.lbsobolik.com