‘Twas the day after Christmas
and all through the house
all the kiddies were playing
without ‘ere a grouse.
When I was a kid, I loved the day after Christmas nearly as much as I loved Christmas. It was time to settle in and enjoy all the new things we were lucky enough to have received from Santa and our relatives. We didn’t have to dress up and go out in the cold. There was no school and no schedule. The excitement was still there but less intense. It wasn’t “everyday” but wasn’t “the day” we’d looked forward to. It was a rare time when we didn’t argue with each other – there were four of us so that was rare.
As much I wished all the excitement wouldn’t be over and Christmas Day could just go on and on, the next day reminded me it wasn’t over. And it wouldn’t be. It only faded into a mellow upbeat thankfulness that would linger for quite some time after.
We were thankful, indeed, for every gift, and especially for parents who cared enough to scrimp through the fall in order to provide such a bounty for Christmas. And we didn’t just get “the in thing” – that wasn’t something our family ever focused on. It was always “just the right thing” for each of us, something that touched our hearts.
That’s always the best gift: touching someone’s heart.
Authors are often asked why they write. What makes us do this seemingly crazy thing? If we add up all the hours against the paycheck for each book, it makes no sense at all to work so hard at our craft, at making each book the best we can when we know darn well it may not even sell one copy.
I suppose putting a book out is like Christmas. It’s exciting to create characters and their worlds and put it all together and perfect it until we get to that huge moment of RELEASE DATE! It is an adrenaline rush. It’s much like scrambling to many different stores and pulling in many different elements to create just the right gift. And then we take all that work and give it away and hope it touches the receiver who will be honestly grateful to have it.
Sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes our gift fizzles in a reader’s hand because it wasn’t quite what she expected or wanted. It’s like giving a present and watching a fake thankfulness as the paper is opened, or a shrug and a toss aside. It happens. Do we stop giving gifts, then?
Of course not. We try harder the next time. Or we change course and give it to someone we think might be a more grateful receiver.
The day after Christmas, whether our gifts were well-received or only partly well-received, we begin the slow return to reality. It’s not over. The gift is out there. We can sit back and glow in the moment of it being out and over for the time being as work goes by the wayside, or we may continue to celebrate through the New Year with promo that both keeps us fired up and wears us down. But reality does return.
No matter how the season turned out or how much we want to sit tight and hold on to that accomplishment’s glow, the next year does come, and with it comes a return to the everyday. It’s not over, though. The glow of the day’s memories remain as kindling that helps us push through the hardest days of the year/project we sometimes struggle through and sometimes skate through. Because we know The End does come, and because we know The End is not an actual end, we find each go ‘round easier than the last.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to all of the beautiful receivers out there who so gratefully accept our gifts of story. You provide the kindling that helps us continue through the next project so we can again offer a gift from our hearts that will, with every hope, touch yours.
And we heard them exclaim as we set down our pens,
Have a happy, creative 2010!