Writing and the Ghosts of Christmas


This time of year can be hard.

NaNoWriMo is over, the business of the holiday season is in full swing, family and friend demands are at an all-time high, time is limited and precious and elusive, and all around us swirl stories we can’t quite capture. It’s as though all the plotlines from this year and all the ones previous converge at once and gather close to us for expression, acknowledgement, and maybe remembrance.

New babies. Lost loved ones. Fresh relationships. Painful separations. Moves, jobs, friendships, financial concerns…everywhere you look people are carrying their stories like burdens. Sometimes they share them, but even if they don’t…we always feel them, the stories. The anecdotes that, strung together, form the lives of everyone around us. And yet, there’s a kind of poignancy at Christmas and the New Year…where old memories are sharp enough to make us bleed as we shrug on a cheery sweater and smile our way into new ones.

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”  ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

(Side note: for anyone out there struggling, you’re not alone. This is tough, but you’re tougher. Hang in there.)

As for writers, well…

Writing is hard. It is grueling, unforgiving, lonely work that exhausts, exhilarates, transforms. Maybe we choose to do it, maybe we HAVE to do it, but regardless – if you’re here and you’re writing, I applaud you. Because writing hurts – but it is also magic. What excites and inspires you might change someone’s life. What makes you laugh might stop someone’s tears. And what breaks your heart…might just mend someone else’s. That’s the magic…and that’s why we can’t stop. Not now…not when the world is so desperately in need of a booster shot of light.

Therefore write on, everyone. Through the dark, the fear, and those brilliant flashes of almost-too-bright inspiration…write on.

And finally, be kind to those around you this holiday season. You never know who might be drowning in memories, or who desperately needs whatever story you’re fighting so hard to create.

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