No, I haven't lost it. It's not Christmas, but I'm certainly keeping my thoughts centered on Christmas since receiving the call for Christmas stories from the Chicken Soup publishers. When we're in the middle of the actual Christmas season, it's easy to feel the joy, the love, the warmth--the emotion--of the holiday. Not so easy to bring it back on a hot June day.
But that's when a Christmas story must be written and sent if it's a quick call like this one. Especially with a short deadline of less than a month away. How do you go about writing a good Christmas story in the middle of summer?
Two days ago, after the call came via e-mail, I skimmed through my story files to see what I might have that I could send as is or revise and submit. That's always going to be easier than writing something brand new. I found a couple stories that were possibilities, but they weren't true 'stories'--more memories than a full story. And Chicken Soup wants a story with a beginning, middle and end. They specifically say that they do not want an essay. Ever since, I've had Christmas thoughts swirling through my mind trying to devise a way to use the memoirs and turn them into true stories.
Yesterday afternoon, I went to the grocery store. People seeing me push my cart through the aisles had no idea that I was mentally writing a Christmas story. I find that letting a story come through slowly in this manner is better than sitting down cold at the computer and trying to come up with it. The story isn't in my head word for word, but the idea is, the specifics scenes are there. Once I feel ready, I can sit down and start writing the first draft.
The ideal way is to write a Christmas story during Christmas season when the house is decorated, packages wrapped, good smells coming from the oven. Write it with the emotion that the holiday brings to you, and then put the story aside and submit it 4 to 6 months later for publication the next Christmas. "But that's a whole year away," you might say. And my answer wuld be--"Yes, but that's the way this writing world works." After awhile, it becomes easier to write Christmas stories in the summer or Halloween stories in February or Valentine stories in October. First choice is to write them at the holiday time and save them for later.
Right now, I've got to start thinking about snow, fir trees, ginger cookies, and childrens' nativity plays so I can write my story. I'll write it, revise it a few times and send it in.