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Saturday, December 26, 2015

 

Late December Questions

Ahhhhh, December 26th.

Finally, I have a moment—I have days of moments—where nothing pressing has to be done. No big production meals to coordinate, no last-minute holiday tasks calling my name. Just me and my cozy, overstuffed chair.

And maybe a book.

It’s the late December Lull, the perfect time to slow my roll, as my kids say. And though I’ve probably shared all this before, it bears repeating: we need a little quiet time, a break in the busyness, before we make those all-important plans for the coming year.

I let a couple topics simmer in my psyche while I’m sitting around in my cozy, over-stuffed chair, munching on Christmas cookies. Now, I don’t write anything down yet. I’m just thinking on these things so that come December 31st, I’ll know where I want my writing to go. So here I offer up the topics I ponder, and maybe you can do some pondering as well.

READING

Oh, I love to ponder the books I’ve read, the ones I’ve enjoyed and even the ones I didn’t enjoy so much. I use Goodreads to keep track of my books and thank goodness, because I’m horrible at recollecting titles. I read a lot of books in a year, but during the December Lull, I’m mostly thinking about the books I remember well. If they were favorites, they’ll likely become mentor texts to me. I consider why I loved that book, what made it so engaging, how did the author keep me interested and/or intrigued. If I remember a book because it was memorably bad, well, I might ask why did I quit on it?

Reading in my genre informs my writing. But I don’t just ponder the books I’ve read because I write other forms. So I’ll think about magazine markets or anthology markets, too. A string of rejections to a particular market is telling. It’s either telling me that I need to go back and read those magazines and anthologies again, or it’s telling me that my style is not suited for a market I’ve targeted. And so I ponder whether to keep trying or move on.

THE LOVE/HATE RATIO

As much as I love writing, and being a writer, there are things about my job I kinda hate. And during the December Lull, I do a sort of mental health check to make sure that what I love surpasses what I hate. Because we all know that writing is a tough business; to stay in the game, the pros should outweigh the cons, right? Also, thinking about those less desirable aspects leads to important questions. Like whether I need to give up a job that’s not worth the time and effort. Or how can I make an onerous job more palatable? It’s worth a little pondering to keep my love of writing on the plus side.

THE MOUNTAIN

And lastly, I like to review where I am on the way to my mountain. Neil Gaiman talked about his writing path and how he saw his goal as a mountain. He decided to take those jobs that moved him closer to the mountain. I love that image; it helps me set my writing goals, too. So in my Lull, I think about what moved me closer to my mountain and where I need to go next and how I’ll get there.

It’s a monumental amount of thinking, let me tell you. It’s no wonder I stay in that cozy, overstuffed chair, eating cookies. And by the way, it may look like I’m napping, but really, I’m deep into pondering.

Very deep.

Ahhhh. Welcome, welcome late December.

~Cathy C. Hall

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10 Comments:

Blogger Margo Dill said...

I was pondering at my mom's house yesterday how I need to buy an oversized chair (seriously!). This is a great post. I like the idea of THE MOUNTAIN. I still have a long climb ahead of me. Happy holidays to you.

5:48 AM  
Blogger Cathy C. Hall said...

Thanks, Margo, and may your mountain be ever closer! And P.S. You MUST get that overstuffed chair. Call it a business expense. :-)

6:54 AM  
Blogger Sioux said...

Cathy--A well-cushioned chaise might be even better. Then, you can stretch out and "ponder."

2:43 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

Cath ~ Thanks so much for this! I LOVE that you shared the Mountain. I'm a hiker! So it's all gravy. I'm ALL about deep pondering at the moment. Can't wait to see what you come up with! xo

9:50 PM  
Blogger Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I remember The Mountain idea, but I'm definitely going to revisit it while I ponder this week. Thanks for the reminder, Cathy! Good luck in 2016!

5:01 AM  
Blogger Suzanne Pitner said...

Congrats on a year well done, Cathy! I know after your pondering you'll be refreshed and full of new ideas. Happy lull days! Enjoy your cookies. You earned them.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Suzanne Pitner said...

Congrats on a year well done, Cathy! I know after your pondering you'll be refreshed and full of new ideas. Happy lull days! Enjoy your cookies. You earned them.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Good advice. My down time was actually over the weekend, enjoying family time, and cooking for the masses. My edits came in from my publisher, and with a January 30th release I have to forego the easy chair and get cracking. But don't worry...I'll squeeze in some quiet time somewhere---hopefully with a nice glass of wine and a purring cat in my lap. :)

8:55 AM  
Blogger Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Good advice. My down time was actually over the weekend, enjoying family time, and cooking for the masses. My edits came in from my publisher, and with a January 30th release I have to forego the easy chair and get cracking. But don't worry...I'll squeeze in some quiet time somewhere---hopefully with a nice glass of wine and a purring cat in my lap. :)

8:55 AM  
Blogger Linda O'Connell said...

Great advice, as usual. A cozy chair and my thoughts. An office chair and my ideas. I wind down in December and burst into a writing frenzy in January. The mountain example is perfect.

4:06 PM  

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