Wednesday 5 January 2011

Confessions of a Christmas writer

Not everybody likes Christmas starting in November.  I respect such frustration, understand the logic but don’t count myself among these protestors.  The anticipation, the decoration, the spendification just can’t start early enough for me.  I’m the dreadful mother who allows her children to play the Christmas CD in the car in September, actively encourages letter writing to Father Christmas and Mother Wrapalot in October and remembers she should have made the Christmas cake in November.  (I write Christmas cards two days before Christmas but that’s another story.)

It’s best when the children break up from school a week early so we can wrap presents together in front of Wife Swap USA, make another batch of mince pies as soon as the next pack of pre-rolled pastry has defrosted and play Winter Wonderland on the piano pretending not to notice the unintentional rhythmical alterations. 

I tend to have a tear at the school’s Nativity, even when I can only hear every second word and my own children have long since graduated.  There’s something just so appealing about a three foot Mary.  And I even like the slightly over zealous Vicar pleading with us to stop and think.

I like snowy walks with my family, meeting friends in the pub en route.  I like my presents, scant in number certainly, perhaps not of the highest quality but chosen so very much with me in mind.  I’m wearing those pink USB heated slippers now, for example, reluctant as I am to put on the heating when it’s only me in the house.

I even ‘get’ turkey; fifth day turkey, curried turkey. I read that 86% of people eat turkey only because they feel they ought. I read a tweet about eating duck instead.  I eat duck but I’m not so keen on it curried.  I like, no I love, people coming to stay, leaving late morning after two jugs of coffee and more chat after the chat and wine and food and chocolates of the night before, the children all playing dutifully on the Wii, still in their pyjamas.

Then it’s back to normality.  They all go back – back to work, back to school and I go back to my desk, to writing again from 11pm, to going to bed late and waking four hours later with a sense of foggy satisfaction about the volume of words written when the house was quiet.

I miss them all on their first day back: hubbie with his cold, eldest with her hormones, youngest with her scruffy old pinafore when I can’t coax her into one of the skirts which hangs pristine in her wardrobe. 
But I have to admit to a small smile as I wave goodbye to the last to leave at 8.45. 

And so I run.  I stuff the remaining breakfast items in the dishwasher, yank some sopping clothes from the washer and toss them over the drier, flick on the kettle, write a cheque for the milk, trip over the forgotten PE kit and make my way upstairs to my desk.  I switch on the computer - an unusual phenomenon caught as it is in a perpetual energy loop over the holidays.  I remove plastic heart shaped key rings, miniature playing cards, screwdrivers and whoopee cushions from my desk and replace them with 344 pages of A4 manuscript. 

Then I start.  Without interruption.  And slowly but surely, I input all the amendments I’d made on the hard copy of my novel.   I’m changing it around you see.  An agent made some fantastic suggestions after reading the full manuscript and I get the chance to see what I can do with it and send it back to her.  It’s a terrific opportunity and one I mustn’t squander. 

After an hour or two I make tea.  I take a few pages of the manuscript with me to read through as the kettle boils and luxuriate in the lack of a call to find the recycled batteries, the guinea pigs’ spare water bottle, the Christmas cake.  After forgetting to eat lunch I set the alarm on my desk to 3.20 to remind me to return to this world before my children get home.

When they’re all back, I smother them with ridiculously large bear hugs.  I’ve missed them, you see, I really have – almost as much as I’d missed my writing over the past couple of weeks. 

Happy 2011 everyone!  May it be packed with happy times and chunks of everything you like!


  1. I pictured every word of that! It's making me want christmas all over again! I absolutely loved your account there! Keep up your writing /blogs it's where's that last mince pie!

  2. Oooh... Christmas strikes back!

    Great post, Jackie. You almost have me convinced to ditch the Bah Humbug and enjoy the season next time round... almost. ;)

    Pink USB heated slippers?? What?!?!?! (are there really such things?)

  3. You can't beat turkey curry. I normally make sprout aloo as a side dish (a bit like sag aloo but more dangerous)

  4. You fabulous little person, you never let me down. Wonderful attention to detail, writing that puts the reader inside your (chilly) home, nodding in approval at the writer's dedication and gazing around in wonder at the chaos upon which you thrive. A great blog, this, an object lesson for a novice blogger with far less to write about and vastly less talent to put it down in words. xx

  5. Thanks Antonia :-) Did you see the bit about you in there???

  6. Charlie, Sprout aLoo?? Ha ha ha ha ha!

  7. Eh Sandie, it wasn't that powerful, don't you go a-changin'!

    And yes! The slippers, they're very real. I love them. They are soooo warm - only drawback is you can't actually walk anywhere in them, unless you want to drag the pc tower with you. Sitting at the desk with only movement coming from the elbows forward, though, and they're perfect.

  8. Jake, hush now with the talk of less talent. You've hit the ground running with your blog and I am in awe of your ability to post so frequently. You know I love your writing.

    I'm glad this post hit the spot in the way I intended, you never really know how it's going to be interpreted until you get feedback, do you??

    Thanks for reading!

  9. I'm not a fan of Christmas, but I love it when the house is quiet for a little while! Nice post.

  10. Thanks Sweepyjean! I've been over to your blog too, have posted my two words. They won't change the world but they were the first which sprung to mind and wouldn't budge! Great idea!
    Thanks for reading.

  11. Oh, and I meant to say, I had no idea, until I wrote this post, how many people really aren't fans of Christmas.

  12. Hi Jax,
    This is a fab blog, I can imagine (and enjoy) it all, I suppose there are still people who don't "get" it but if they read your blog I am sure they would change their minds!!!

  13. Thanks Lyn, glad you enjoyed it! I think some people's heads aren't for turning though!


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