I had plans for December. Actually, I have plans for every month, but I really, really had plans for December. I thought these out back in the fall, like back when the trees were still green and we didn’t need jackets. I was going to do it all better this year. No stress, no getting behind. I’d be on top of things. I’d go to bed early and I’d get up early. I’d be a hard worker and impress everyone, including myself. I’d be ahead of the holidays, taxes, and shopping. I would be —
I’m chuckling to myself now at how I imagined everything would go. This isn’t my first or even tenth go-round with the holidays, with being the woman in charge of it all. Yet here I was, being naive all over again.
Clearly dreaming up fiction is my calling!
I’ve been working on a book, a Kept spin-off that deals with two minor characters. It’s for a romantic suspense novella collection that comes out in May, and it’s only forty thousand words. I’ve got a general plot done, but the details are giving me grief. This book isn’t “writing itself” like my first published book did. (Not that it did either, but remember, I tend to live in fictionland.) This book is fighting me. And I don’t like it.
I remember being a kid, a high schooler, a college student, a young mom and dreaming about how the writing life would be . I’d write whatever idea I wanted to (because I’d be a bestseller, of course!). I’d send my perfectly behaved children off to school, send my husband off to work, and plunk down in front of my desk in my office in our quiet, silent house and just let the words flow.
It’s quite a lovely dream, isn’t it?
Lest you think I’m being mopey here, I’m not. It’s rather funny how different life has turned out to be. I wrote for twenty years before my first book saw the light of day. I homeschool three kids, one in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary. My husband works from home half the day. I don’t have my own office — except in the winter when no one wants to hang out with me in our unheated, unfinished basement.
Oh, my kids aren’t perfect either. They’re special and wonderful, but good grief, they need parents!
In my dreams, writing came easily. And now I’m feeling the pressure of a nearing deadline and the struggle of what should be a good story fighting me. I’m realizing that this December is going to be me slaving over the laptop — and making meals that are quick and easy rather than home cooked and putting taxes off until I just can’t anymore.
Phew! This was not the way I imagined it.
I bet we can all say that, can’t we?
We can set ourselves up for failure just by expecting perfection. We’re not going to stay up late getting those last presents bought and shipped — we’ll be done by Thanksgiving. And then a two-week flu hits. Or a Snowpocalypse shuts everything down. We’re not going to gain five pounds over the holidays. We’re going to lose a couple! And then we slip on the ice and sprain an ankle.
Life is that way, isn’t it? It makes for really good fiction, all those unforeseen twists and turns that make our heroes and heroines fight for their goals and for each other. We like that in our fiction.
So why do we want boring in our own lives?
This December I hope to remind myself that sometimes the surprises, the unexpected drama and plot twists in my own life are what make life memorable. Fun. Rewarding. Are what make for good stories. Remember when the U-Haul broke down, honey, and we had to find a hotel halfway to our destination? Remember that blizzard in Iowa we got caught in? Remember when our then-youngest ended up in the ER twice in one month? Remember…
It’s a good goal to try to be more on top of things. But I’m going to try to be more flexible, more willing to take the curve balls God sends me and see what He wants me to do with them. I’m going to try to remember that the taxes will get done, that we will all go to bed with happy stomachs, that the gift giving will work itself out, that this book will get done. That winter will be over soon and that what will matter to me is my relationship with my husband and kids, my family and friends, my relationship with my God. Life is not meant to be a boring, self-centered world where everything goes where I want it to. Life is meant to be one that reflects God and His Word, whether that’s in my writing or in my tax paying or in my relationships.
So I’ll take my hand off my forehead, get up from where I sprawled across the couch. The life of a writer, the life of a reader — our lives will always be unpredictable and filled with everything from happiness to sadness and every emotion in between. And that’s okay. Because no matter what comes at us this December, we know that our God is still in control and hasn’t forgotten us or messed up with us. We have the absolutely best author of all writing our own stories.
Linda Herold says
It was funny to me to see what your post topic was today! We have friends who are always late or wait until the last minute to do something, but never get stressed! Somehow things just work out for them. Case in point–today their youngest daughter called. She wanted help observing in a classroom. (Unfortunately, I just retired from teaching special ed. students for 30 years!) I asked her when her observation hours needed to be completed. Thursday!! Since it’s only Tuesday (now Wednesday morning) she still has plenty of time! No need to stress!! Somehow with a little help from above, she’ll manage to get it done!
Jill Weatherholt says
I loved this, Sally! I guess our first mistake is when we try to impress ourselves. :)
I’m experiencing the same feeling with my current book, it isn’t “writing itself” like the first. I find myself being easily distracted and less focused. I hope after the holidays things will settle back into a routine, but if not, like you said, our lives will always be unpredictable, so we must adapt to the present environment.
Well said, Sally. May most of your plans/daydreams come true. :)
Kimberly Rose Johnson says
Loved this post, Sally! Very inspiring. I’ve been there more than once this past year with looming deadlines and a story that wouldn’t cooperate.
Valerie Comer says
Like a fresh snowfall, our plans look so perfect until we step out into them and mar the surface! It’s my November where the wheels really fell off the bus. Chastising myself only makes it worse, so I’m stepping into a hopeful December…. hopefully realistic! Thanks, Sally. Great post.
Andrea Cox says
Sally, you can totally do this! I’m sure your novella will turn out great.
Here’s one of my favorite crock pot recipes to help you out, if you choose to use it. The best part about it (besides its yumminess) is that it cooks while you write. :)
3 pounds of chicken (the recipe called for chicken wings, but I use chicken breasts; more meat = more satisfied tummies)
1 garlic clove, minced (or 1 or 2 teaspoons garlic powder)
1 cup fresh or canned pineapple, cubed (and drained if using canned)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
Place the chicken in the crock pot.
In a bowl, combine the salt, pepper, honey, soy sauce, pineapple, vegetable oil, and garlic. Mix well.
Pour the sauce over the chicken.
Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours.
Happy writing, Sally! Hope those details come together for you soon.
Melissa Henderson says
You are right. God is in control. :-)
Sharon Kay says
Great and timely post, especially for this time of year when it’s easy to lose sight of what the Christmas season is really all about. Wishing you and your family a truly blessed December, challenges and all.
I’ve learned to just say “Okay, God what are you trying to tell me/teach me/show me now” & let things be more often. Do I do this everytime….no, certainly not!! But I’ve found perfect peace when I DO learn to accept the curve ball God throws my way. And to rest in His arms & let Him have control for once :-)