Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas will be here before we know it. The holiday season brings with it a cramped schedule. We’re running here and there shopping for food and gifts and trying to deliver those gifts. We’re trying to write and mail off those holiday cards in time. Then we have family to cater to, including those who come from out of town and stay with us. On top of that there’s our jobs and other everyday, year-round duties such as paying bills. This cramped holiday schedule makes us writers’ writing time even more cramped. This is especially so if, like me, you’re working a day job.
It’s even tougher when you have family to cater to who stay with you during a holiday week or weekend. You can’t just ditch them to go write. After all, they are our family, our blood, so we should show them appreciation and love. That’s what the holidays are all about, or should be at least. But still, an artist needs his/her own space where they only work on their art and won’t be sidetracked. That’s often a challenge when family from over three hundred miles comes to stay with me during a holiday week, especially when I live in a small apartment and there’s really no private space suitable for writing.
When I write fiction, I have to, or more like prefer to, be alone in my house to connect to that other world that I’m creating and to “journey” through it with my pen as my walking staff or, in the case of sci fi, as my rocket ship. My most honest work comes out when I am writing alone. But sometimes that just can’t happen, such as in the case of family or friends from afar who stay with you, or even just everyday intermediate family or roommates year-round. So during the Thanksgiving week when my parents were staying with me, I told them that I would see them when I get back from my day job and my errands. Those errands mostly consisted of my writing. This was especially the writing of my novella that I’m presently working on that was started during NaNoWriMo and, though I started it late in the month, I was trying to use that time to focus on just that. So I had to find an alternative central control for my writing. Everyone has their own alternative writing space that works best for them since we all work differently. Some people will use the library, some will rent a hotel room if they can afford it (which is not quite in my budget). My alternative writing space for fiction? The fast food joint.
I already write best at fast food places and cafes when I’m working on non-fiction such as articles and movie reviews (or this blog post). Unless there’s someone there who I know, I often don’t heavily converse with other customers at these places and so can focus on my work without being distracted by other customers. And so if I don’t know the majority of the people in a restaurant, including fast food, I can more easily write fiction than I can around people who I know. Why? When I’m around friends or family there’s an air of expectation that I won’t get when I’m writing around strangers. I also feel forced to write more quickly because I know I can’t just take my own sweet time and leave my parents hanging at home and making them think I’m trying to avoid them.
So maybe the holiday rush can make us writers work more quickly and even productively since we know we’ll have lesser time to write. Maybe that can even be the greatest gift Life can give us each Holiday season. At least aside from that new fantasy anthology or space battle video game you asked St. Nick to bring you.
Do you have an alternative writing space for when friends or relatives stay with you? If so, where is it? Feel free to leave your answers in the box below.
Until next time . . .