Day after Christmas, and I missed the opportunity to cue “Brick,” by Ben Folds, at exactly six AM, which is kind of a tradition with me, but the world has not ended, so I think that is a good thing. We are now officially in my favorite week of the year, the tucked away week, between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Time for reflecting and refilling -I am currently watching a favorite movie, Music and Lyrics, which fits in nicely with the whole reflecting thing and new beginnings thing, the whole romance thing, and very much the whole writing thing in general, as well as the whole picking oneself up and getting back in the game thing.
That’s a lot of things, which makes it a good choice to fill the post-holiday space. Right now, I am under a comfy blanket, full of delicious chopped steak and cheesy baked potato, hot chocolate and salted caramel chip cookies waiting for me on the other side of this entry. I very strongly prefer to have some idea of what I’m going to write when I begin a blog entry, but I’d also like to get stronger at the entries where I need to wing it. Those are always going to happen, so I may as well find a way to have fun with them, make them more interesting to write, and, hopefully, to read.
Boxing Day, as we do it, is a day for relaxing, staying out of the demands of everyday life, so that, when it’s time to go back, we’re refreshed and ready to take on the new year. This year, my emphasis is specifically on writing. Which means that I need to take in stories, in whatever forms I can get them -TV, movies, books, music, gameplay- and get that creative well filled. What works for me, and why? What doesn’t, and why doesn’t it? It also means I need to do other creative things that don’t involve writing. Baking cookies works well on this front, as does making art, in whatever form. I’ve noticed that I haven’t been making a lot of art lately, and that needs to change, as it’s an intrinsic piece of the puzzle.
Back when I was ten, my Christmas haul included two books: Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume, and Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh. I felt insanely rich, getting two books at the same time, and spent what felt like a really long time ensconced in my dad’s yellow armchair, trying to decide which one to read first. That was one hard decision, and it did not occur to me at the time that I could read both at once, alternating chapters, or moving between them at will, but hey, I was ten. What I do remember is that I spent most of the rest of that day reading one, and tore into the other as soon as I was finished. Probably not my first chain-read, and very much not my last, but when I think of Christmas and Boxing Day and books, that’s the image that comes most readily to mind.
I still remember Margaret and Harriet after all these years. Margaret was at the age where she’d started to discover an interest in boys, while Harriet had other concerns. Neither book was a romance, and it would be about a year before I would sneak The Kadin from my mother’s nightstand, so I had not yet discovered the romance genre or imprinted upon it. Still, I gravitated toward fairy tales that were both on the darker side and had love stories that turned out well for both parties. That hasn’t changed, which may be why I am hunkered down in long-sleeved t-shirt and pajama pants, watching a love story, writing about writing love stories, with paperback and Kindle at hand. Kindle, of course, chockablock full of romance novels, the vast majority of which are historical.
Today marks a week of tucking in with love stories, wherever they might lurk. Going over the good parts -in Music and Lyrics, for instance, the scene at the amusement park, where Sophie convinces Alex to go onstage and perform the encore he doesn’t want to perform, because he is a grumpy old badger. She slips into the crowd and goes all fangirl on him, waving her flip phone (does that make it a period piece now?) and swaying to the music, and darned if she doesn’t coax the performance out of him.
That’s a huge part of what the tucked away week is for, this year. I love the romance genre, a place where the only rules -the only ones- are that the love story has to be central, and the ending optimistic; happily ever after, in most cases, or happy for now (possibly for younger protagonists and/or grumpy badgers.) I tend to go for the first version, but even that’s not all rainbows and unicorns. I write historical romance, so we know that stuff is going to be coming for the lovers in my books; wars, natural disasters, state of the art eighteenth century medical technology and all that fun stuff, but the important thing is that the lovers are going to have each other, so they can take on whatever comes their way in the future. They’ll be together, and that’s enough. Which means immersing myself in romance is a pretty darned good way to wrap up the year, as well as start out the new one.
For today, it’s movies, books, hot beverages, baked goods, Christmas lights, and a dedicated mews (with occasional breaks to play bubbles with her, but I’ll let her talk about that in her next blog.) to keep me on track.