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.
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.
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.
Ahhhh. Welcome, welcome late December.
~Cathy C. Hall