Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Just like my mom once predicted, time has sped up as I've gotten older. When I was a kid, the space between Thanksgiving and Christmas used to stretch endlessly before me. Now I'm like, "Holy guacamole, is Christmas really this coming Sunday?"

Yes, it's really on Sunday.

Our tree is up, but so far it only has lights and ONE ornament, the ornament gifted to us by a co-worker of my husband. Each Christmas this man's family (consisting of a lovely wife and four kids), makes ornaments and then distributes them in person so the kids have the joy of creating and giving. It's the kind of thing I thought I would do when I had kids, but never did. This year's ornament is a gingerbread man, and I really want to eat it. It looks delicious.

Anyway, this is my evil plan for the tree. I am going to do nothing. That's right, nothing. I set the darn thing up, put the lights on, and vacuumed up the fake needles which fell off in the process. If no one else in the family makes a move to finish decorating it, this will be how it will look on Christmas morning.

A terrible photo taken with my son's phone, since I'm having camera issues.
 If the tree doesn't get decorated, it'll confirm my long-stated assertion that I have to do everything around here. On the other hand, if the family comes together unprompted, and joyously finishes the job, I'll have to admit that I'm just a big whiner. I'll keep you posted.

The time has gone by so quickly that I never got around to mentioning the really nice post featuring me on the Otherworld Diner blog. Just prior to Thanksgiving, writer Brenda Nelson-Davis asked if I'd be willing to list a few things I'm grateful to have learned on the path to publication.

This is what I came up with (probably only of interest to other writers):

1.Not everyone will love my books. In fact, there will ALWAYS be a certain percentage of readers who don’t. Negative reviews used to devastate me ... until I noticed that all of my favorite books had at least a few one and two-star reviews. Once I realized some people out there hated To Kill a Mockingbird, it got easier. My take on it is that I always do my best, which is the only part of writing a novel I can control. Ultimately, people will have their opinions. So be it.

2.The importance of writer friends. I love all my friends, but writer friends come in handy when I want to talk shop or celebrate something writing-related. When I first started hanging out with other writers, I had this immediate strong feeling that these were My People. Turns out I’m not as weird as I thought, or at least I’m weird in a way that makes sense.

3.There’s no competition. I can envy another writer for his or her rich use of language, or New York Times bestseller status, but when the day is done, writers are not in competition with each other. Like literary fingerprints, each author writes the book only he or she can write. Besides, there are an unlimited number of slots to be filled and new readers are born every day.

4.To trust the process. Partway through writing a novel I always reach a point where I feel like I’ve painted myself into a corner and I become convinced there’s no way to get the book to work. It's a scary place to be, considering the time and emotional energy I’ve already sunk into the story. At some point, I realized this is part of my writing process and there’s no need to panic. I still do panic (a little bit), but it’s reassuring to know I’ve worked through this problem before, and I probably can do so again.

5.That nothing matters except the work. Not the reviews, not the rankings, not the sales. Many deserving books never get their due. There’s a lot of heartbreak out there for writers. If you really love writing, that will carry you through.

Now I'm off to do some wrapping. Happy holidays to all of you. I wish you the best, now, and in the coming year.




Jon Olson said...

Thanks Karen. Related to painting oneself into a corner, I would add one: At some point in the writing of every book, you will feel a way you've never felt before -- good, bad or indifferent.

Jon O.
The Petoskey Stone
The Ride Home

Karen McQuestion said...

Well said, Jon! And there's no predicting, either. Each novel is its own beast.

Bill B said...

Nothing matters except the work. Amen! And Merry Christmas all o' you McQuestions!

Rex Kusler said...

I finished a design project once and took the layout in to show my boss. He wouldn't look at it, just asked me if I liked what I'd done. I told him I did, and he told me to go ahead and release it. That's how Amazon works with me, and I like it. Nothing worse than writing a novel and having somebody twist it into something that fits their personal taste and not mine. Best wishes to you, Karen.

Karen McQuestion said...

Thanks, Bill. And a Merry Christmas to you and Mrs. B. and the younger Bs too. Oh, and a Happy New Year as well.

Rex, we are in total agreement. Editing should make a book better, not different. I love the way Amazon Publishing respects the author in that regard. Best wishes to you too!

Sean McCartney said...

Great vpost Karen. Have a great holiday and I agree with Jon and his comment about the feeling of writing a book. Take care. :)


Karen McQuestion said...

Thanks, Sean. I hope you have a great holiday season too. :)

Therese said...

I am so glad that you like the ornament! We love making them every year! Merry Christmas!

Karen McQuestion said...

You always come up with something great, but you outdid yourself this year! Honestly, Therese, I thought your ornament was a cookie (at first). Well done. :)

Christina said...

Christina - - I agree with every one of your statements, completely (and I also hope your family decorated the tree! One of my fondest memories as a child was decorating the tree, since my father loved Christmas and we kept cherished ornaments, buying a few new ones every year, and of course having many Ukrainian ones! Then later in life my father made such beautiful ornaments and gave them to his friends and family!).

Karen McQuestion said...

Hi Christina,

Sadly, the tree never got completed. Next year we'll do better. :)

Funny you should mention Ukrainian ornaments. My mom has several of the painted eggs from her travels and they're among my favorites.

Christina said...

Hi again Karen, Sorry your tree didn't go up! As to the Ukrainian eggs, the real Ukrainian Easter Eggs aren't painted but done with a permanent wax-resist process (which is much harder to do). But I was referring to ceramic Ukrainian ornaments with Ukrainian patterns on them that my father imported throughout his lifetime (plus he made some himself!) Happy New Year and best wishes for your writing this year!

Dave Thome said...

You said "evil plan." Did I not tell you that is redundant, as all plans are evil?

Karen McQuestion said...

Sorry, Dave, I forgot! I won't make that mistake again.

tahir sumar said...
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tahir sumar said...
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