Hello all, been a while. Sorry about that. What with the official launch of The Curious Snowflake, one would think I would be all over the social media and blogosphere, talking my literary prowess up.
Yeah, not so much.
Why? A whole number of reasons. Part is my job. Writing, from a financial point of view, is a secondary thing for me. My main income comes from working in retail management, specifically dealing with video games. Needless to say, the holidays are a lot of work and a lot of stress for me: 6 day work weeks, massive holiday hiring and training, and all those people wanting PS4s and Xbox Ones for Little Johnny. Part is just being a married father of 3 kids. Every free moment is spent preparing for the 25th of December or running around to family gatherings, school programs, and other obligations. Part of it is that my creativity is keyed to the seasonal changes. Spring and Summer are my big creative times. The ideas and motivation come fast and furious, and I usually find myself frantically scribbling thoughts on any spare scrap of paper I can find, just to get them out of my head before it pops like an overinflated balloon. Come around November or so, though, the ideas… not so much stop as tone down. They are there, but they are quieter, more polite. During the long daylight months, my creativity is like what Richard Bach described in the introduction to his book Illusions, an 800 lb gorilla that smashes through walls and grabs me by the scruff of the neck. In Fall and Winter, my creativity resembles a shy accountant at a dinner party, standing in a corner fingering a drink or softly interjecting itself into conversations with a polite clearing of the throat.
Between these, I find coming to the page (or in this case the keyboard) to be a challenge. I’m sure I’m not the only one. More than a few of you feel the stresses of the holidays and the darker days of the year, I’m quite sure. The worst part for me, really, is that I lose momentum. Like any creative, I suffer from doubts, and now that I am published I find the doubts are, if anything, worse than before. When TCS was just pixels on my monitor the doubts were all internal, but now that it’s out there in the world every day that passes with a drop in sales and rankings feels like a judgment. The insecure introvert in my wants to just walk away, give up before things really even start. If this is the reception I can expect, I think, why bother at all? Of course, that’s not an option and never has been. I can’t stop creating any more than I can stop breathing. But the drag of all of this makes coming to the page every day a slog, the emotional equivalent of trying to push a cart out of deep mud: slow, messy, and frustrating.
There’s a term we in retail use for the work that needs to be done after we get through the first week of January: Holiday Recovery. It’s the list of tasks we need to do to fix up the store after the insanity of December, the catching-up on tasks we let slip, the shift in gears back into the more normal way of working. As a creative, and especially a published one, I need to do a personal Holiday Recovery. Come back to the page every day, even if it is just to write a couple of sentences. Take time to refill my soul, give myself the little indulgences, the moments of peace, the few seconds to enjoy a scene of beauty. Place myself in the digital world, so that anyone who has been touched by my ideas or may wish to be can interact with me, see me as something approachable and worthy of such. Do the thing, and then do the thing again.
I’m sure some of you have similar experiences. Tell me your stories. How do you recover from the holidays, or from any stressful time? I’d love to hear from you.