Molly Campbell: A Writer’s Christmas

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December first. Decorate one tree. Flocked, it sheds hunks of what might be poisonous snow all over the floor; grandson may be in peril. Google “flocked trees.” Sigh in relief. It is non-toxic. That reminds you that in your novel that is in revisions, you probably misspelled the word “toxic” because the “c” key and the “x” key are next to each other. Vow to spellcheck everything, maybe in an hour.

While spellchecking, peruse the chapter in your book about a failing relationship. The woman is too shrill. As a matter of fact this shrill thing took you over completely at the Hardware Store. You got distracted, and bought the wrong kind of battery operated Fairy Lights, and now you have to return them.This will totally delay the hanging of the wreath on the front door. Damn. Set bag of lights on the kitchen table for right now and open laptop. Delete the offending scenes. Fix a few errant adjectives while you are at it. Take out five adverbs. Look up at the clock. My God, the chicken should have been in the oven an hour ago.

December fifth. Thank God for internet shopping. While on Amazon, look at your book ranking. Shudder. Go to the work in process and punch it up a bit more. Consider not just “killing your darlings,” but slaughtering them.

December sixth. Vow to cease all literary activity until holidays are over. After all, there is still a bag of pinecones just waiting to be hot-glued to something. The kids will be here in a week. There is a Christmas Eve menu to plan. Maybe soup this year. Soup! That’s it. Just what the protagonist should have for the luncheon with her sister when she confronts her about being the cause of her broken marriage. Husband stealing confrontation over corn chowder. Or maybe it should be gazpacho. The book is set in the summer. But corn chowder will be perfect for Christmas Eve over here.

December seventh. Getting confused with mixing not only a few metaphors in chapter six, but in mixing my soup recipes. I put tomatoes and peppers on my grocery list, then had to cross out and list corn and potatoes. This is getting to be too much. I have to stop doing book things until after Christmas…

December eighth, two a.m.: Sit up suddenly in bed with a huge plot breakthrough concerning either pregnancy, cancer, or a maybe a car accident. Decide that a story boarding exercise is in order. Schlep downstairs to the computer and do that. Afterwards, look around the kitchen and see it as it really is: sort of dirty around the edges. Get down on hands and knees and Swiff all that horrid linoleum. Survey. Decide it needs something a little Christmasy in there. Scrounge around in pantry. Discover some little silver balls. Place in a bowl in the center of the kitchen table. Sigh. Shuffle up to bed.

December eighth, eight a.m. Reread the email you sent to your editor with the storyboard results and revisions. Note that he approved wholeheartedly. Remind yourself that the deadline is in April. Sigh. Push every single thought of your book out of your mind. Vow to wrap as many gifts as possible today.

December ninth isn’t here yet. Your Resolve is withering. New character springs to mind. Decide to try to limit writing to just using the “notes” feature on your iPhone until December 27. Text daughters, asking them to hide your laptop as soon as they get here for the holidays. Study text message for 30 seconds.Would either girl actually do this for you? Nope. Delete text.

Give up. Make slice and bake cookies. Contemplate the fact that you ought to go to a “Show Don’t Tell” workshop. Take your laptop next door and make the neighbor promise that no matter what you say, how much you plead, SHE IS NOT TO GIVE IT BACK TO YOU UNTIL DECEMBER 27. Your neighbor agrees, but she looks very worried.

Feeling liberated, you go to the mall to look for the perfect gift for your husband, who is a professional accordionist. There is nothing out there. Frustrated and sad, you text your neighbor, asking if you could just get the computer back for maybe an hour a day. She texts back an entire paragraph laced with the F word and a rather grouchy refusal. And says “don’t text me again.” You put her on your Christmas list for reparations.

That afternoon, you rummage around in your junk drawer for a legal pad. Your husband hands you the three Valium tablets he saved from his hernia surgery. You actually tear up with thankfulness for such a mate.

Christmas can’t come soon enough.

Molly Campbell (for e-book)

Molly Campbell author of Keep the Ends Loose, loves to create characters. She frequently shares her stories here, but you can always stay up-to-date on her creations and other posts at her website.

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On December 9, 2015
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