Friday, 26 December 2014

The Holiday Writer

We writers are a funny lot.  Give us a break, five minutes to call our own away from the responsibilities of work and family, and you'll generally find us spending time that could otherwise be used for relaxation huddled behind a laptop screen or poring over a well-thumbed manuscript, looking angry/puzzled/desperate (or sometimes all three at once.  That's a facial expression that has to be seen to be believed.)

In today's crazy world, there are precious few opportunities to step back from our duties and simply be ourselves.  Holidays are a precious resource, being few and far between, and non-writers see this as a chance for families to spend time together, share thoughts and feelings, or just gather to watch the Christmas episode of 'Doctor Who'.

Writers are a special case.  An hour with no responsibilities is an hour that can be dedicated to polishing a novel, or researching the most grisly way for a villain to die.  While others are sipping wine and going to holiday parties, the self-respecting writer ignores all distractions and has the discipline to apply themselves to their craft.  After all, that Macallan Silver Dagger or prized Nebula Award isn't going to win itself.

But why am I telling you this, oh partners of the damned?  You know better than anyone what it's like to live with a writer.  You understand the true meaning of sacrifice.  In the past, we had golf and football widows.  Nowadays we have manuscript widows.  You poor souls spend your waking hours lingering hopefully by closed study doors, all the while knowing that your partner won't come out until they've finished redrafting their hero's redemption scene for the tenth time that weekend.

Non-writers, you should understand that we envy you, we really do.  You'll never know the anguish of finding yourself totally awake at 4am with sudden inspiration for how you can close that glaring plothole in chapter 14, knowing that if you don't write the scene now, THIS INSTANT, the inspiration will be gone forever by morning.  We wish that we had normal hobbies.  No gardener ever had to tolerate a plethora of well-meaning relatives asking continuously if the flowers have grown yet.

So be kind to the writers in your lives this holiday season.  If we take five minutes away from the in-laws to outline a new chapter or jot down some dialogue, cover for us.  It may just be the best present you can give to us, and we will appreciate you forever.  For while we must suffer from one of life's most debilitating conditions, we remain your loyal friends, dedicated partners and loving children.

Perhaps, in the end, the best thing to do is accept that if you can't beat us, you should join us.  It's said that there's a book in everyone, so why not pick up a pen, charge your laptop, and join us in the study?

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