Christmas has always held a special sort of magic for me, especially when I was a child, but even now into my adulthood. There was a certain myth and mystery to the idea that a magical elf-burglar would break into my house while I was sleeping and leave me a large quantity of loot I did not remotely deserve. When the first snow fell I would get a small tingling that would last up until Christmas Day, which would only grow with every light display I passed, or Christmas special I saw on television.
I have never been particularly religious, but the Yule traditions of good will towards your fellow man always appealed to me and do now.
Now, as I am older, the magic of this season still affects me, but it has evolved. Instead of waiting for the sound of sleigh-bells, I look forward to my Staff Sergeant giving me a few days so I can scoot off and visit family who are going to feed me until I grow fat. Instead of hoping for ill-gotten loot from the North Pole, I open a good bottle of scotch with my Uncle John and drink the entirety of it while we talk about things that matter. Instead of watching “The Muppet Christmas Carol” and “Garfield’s Christmas”…no, wait, I still do that.
The Christmas and Yule-tide seasons still mean just as much to me as they did when I was ten years old, but the structure of that meaning has changed.
The same thing happens, I think, with our writing. During one of our scotch drinking sessions in the last couple of days, Uncle John asked me what I hoped to achieve with my writing. If you’d asked me this question five years ago, I would have said that I wanted to sell a whole lot of books and get really rich. I would still like to do that, like every other writer, but that desire for fame has been tempered by several years of experience and a genuine love of the craft. Where before I expected that everyone was going to love everything I ever wrote, now I hope that a few people like one of my stories enough to publish it.
I write, now, not for any hope of gain, but for the love of the story I’m writing, and the hope that it will affect someone else the way it affects me. I have grown to think of myself as a craftsman, pounding away at a piece of writing until it does exactly what I need it to, so I can give it to someone else and it will do what they need it to, as well. The way I look at a story has changed, but it does not mean any less to me. In fact, it might mean a little more.
As we grow, our perspective of things is bound to change. Some people take this is a bad thing. They grow bitter with life, and let the magic of things slip away. Others will refuse to evolve, and spend so much time trying to cling to their past that they forget to enjoy what they’ve got going on now. To grow as writers, and as people, we have to let go of our old notions, and let our views change with the world around us. This is the only way to get better.
I know I said there would be no new posts until the new year, but this came to me as I was laughing at one of my old man’s jokes today and wanted to share it with you. I hope you currently have somewhere you want to be, and someone there to make you laugh.
As always, thanks for reading, and Merry Christmas.