Historically, I love Christmas. The music, the lights, the food (oh the food!), the tree, the finding of the perfect gifts, the cheesy Christmas movies, the wearing of silly hats–but lately? I’ve had more in common with Ebeneezer Scrooge than Jolly Old Saint Nick. Apart from general disgust at the gross over-commercialization of the holiday and all the pressure that everyone around me feels to overspend at the holidays (and it’s a pressure I feel too, but I’m not willing to go into debt to do it, so I employ a great deal of ingenuity and give gifts from my kitchen or craft table instead–relying on the fact that what I lack in money I make up for with creativity and thoughtfulness), there aren’t any kids in the family anymore. I still felt like a kid myself up until I was about 25. It’s a standing family amusement that I regress to about the age of 5 once December rolls around. But the last couple of years have felt more like a hassle than a holiday. My husband and I aren’t ready for kids ourselves and none of the cousins are married yet. So no kids for a while, and for this particular purpose, our fur babies don’t quite work. Beyond that there are family pressures involved that stem from certain family members showing up whom everyone doesn’t get along with…I’ll spare you the details of my husband’s family’s drama. I of the only child, very small family, persuasion don’t understand the concept of not saying “No” to people you don’t really like when you don’t want them coming. I digress. You may be wondering what the heck this has to do with writing.
This year, as I have been working on my handmade ornaments and trying to get Christmas shopping finished, and menus planned, etc., I’ve just been cranky. My semester ended, so one thing is off my over-full plate, but then I was just slammed with all the holiday stuff. And it’s all making me generally pissy, which is so unlike me for Christmas. But I’m irritated at everything that keeps me from the writing. It’s not that I’m not making my daily and weekly word goals. I am. But it just doesn’t feel like enough. This is what I want to do. Down to the marrow of my bones this is who and what I am. I am writer, hear me type. This is, certainly, impetus to finish WIPs and polish them to a gleam and submit them and hope like hell someone likes them enough to take a chance on me so that someday I can do this for my job. Or at least my second job instead of my third or fourth. I spent a long time away from this love of mine and now that I’ve found it again, I’m loathe to give it up for anything or anyone. I don’t know if I’m feeling more pressure because of the Sweat because I won’t be finished with the WIP I planned to finish by the end since I got 28k in and started over, with a nearly 7k diversion into another story before the rewrite. I don’t think that’s it. All I know is that I’m in a funk. Maybe when I get off for the holidays I will be able to catch up on some things at home–getting the house thoroughly cleaned up and organized, putting up the last of the holiday decorations (which feel more like a chore this year than a joy, mores the pity), finishing the gifts in a jar I’m giving this year, getting things wrapped, and just generally catching up. I have this constant sense of something hanging over my head. Oh, and my mother’s birthday is tomorrow, which I almost forgot (thank you dear hubby for reminding me–that makes up for you being with me for 9 years and still not remembering what I like on my pizza), and I have no idea what to get her.
There’s not a lot of point to this post, I suppose, other than a general gripe session. So just throwing it out there into the void as a cathartic move. And for those of you who may feel the same way, at least you won’t feel alone.
We’ve talked about this some, but… I used to be someone who really enjoyed Christmas and could really throw myself into it. During the decade+ that my husband and I were married without kids, I found it more and more difficult to get into it just because he’s one of those people who feels Christmas is for this kids and since we didn’t have any there was really no point bothering with much in the way of decorations, etc. Plus, he’s very much a Don’t Get Me Anything There’s Nothing I Really Need guy, where as I keep a detailed want list at all times and am more than willing to produce it on a moment’s notice. (Christmas about presents? oh heck yeah, sorry.) Anyway, I found it harder and harder to keep my Super-Merry self going when it was just us and I was really doing it just for me.
Enter DD. Should have really turned things around. Um, yeah. Now the pressure is on to produce a perfect Christmas, year after year, because she’s only got so much childhood, and what if I don’t do good enough and she looks back on Christmases as a big disappointment?? Ack! Yes, I do try to check in with Reality once in a while, but mostly I just let it make me bat-shit crazy and sick with stress.
Re: the letting the writing thing color you enjoyment of other stuff… This makes me feel like you’re cruising around near my neighborhood. But still, perhaps, over there on the healthy side of the tracks. When you decide to start beating yourself up for not living on 5 hours sleep a day, not giving up everything else to make it so, and not writing anything anyone would want to read ever, let me know. We can picnic on my lawn.
What were we talking about? Did I mention the bat-shit crazy and the no sleep?
We’ve had discussions in the past about how that whole “writing is like breathing” thing isn’t accurate for the majority of people and how a better analogy is that writing is like OCD. Certainly with me. It is both a compulsion “Must put words on page. Must tell stories.” and an obsession because I think about it during most of my waking hours and even occasionally in sleep (although that hasn’t been so much the case lately). If this were some other unhealthy behavior like checking or cleaning or many of the other more typical manifestations of the disorder, as a clinician, I’d be sending myself to therapy. It’s not the compulsion that’s getting worse–that stays fairly constant. It’s the obsession. DH has apparently come to terms with the fact that I HAVE TO DO THIS and that he’s just got to share me with writing. When I go in too deep, he’ll usually check me, but he’s stopped picking at me about it (yay for that). But I really do get truly ANGRY at everything that’s interfering with the writing. And I’m not sure that’s healthy.
I like your comparison to OCD. My husband really dislikes my obsession and fights for my time and attention. It’d be different if it was “real” stuff, but he gets pissy because I won’t watch MASH episodes with him. *rolls eyes* A balance is important, and I try really hard never to put the kids off to do writing, but I totally feel that obsession too. I get cranky when my real job interferes, or when we have get togethers and I can’t write, etc.
I saw your post on salt dough ornaments–and now I think maybe I’ll try it with the monsters while they’re off for Christmas. I must be insane….
The Better Homes and Gardens website has a lot of good ideas for Christmas crafts with kids. I’ll email the links to you when I find them.