Writers on Writing: 18 Blogs of Christmas with Hank Phillippi Ryan
Where are you in your writing life? Looking for a good idea? Slogging through that first draft? In the glory of revisions?
Here’s the gift. You have already gotten the holiday present you always wanted.
Remember when that idea came to you? The seductive, encircling beginning of the possibility that you, just like you always hoped, had thought of an idea for a book. A book! That would be yours.
You sat at your computer, wrote the first—how many?—thirty-five pages. Or so. And then, blam. You realized—“I’m not sure this is going to work.”
What did you do after that?
Let me go on a bit of a tangent. I’ve been a TV reporter for 40 years now. And when that’s your job, the days on the calendar look different. Holidays? Sure. But news still happens on holidays, so reporters have to work. So in the past however many years, when I was a general assignment reporter, holidays as “days off” did not exist. I’ve worked on so many Christmases and Thanksgivings and New Year’s Eves, I can’t begin to tell you.
For a reporter, holidays are just like any other day. It’s often, though, more difficult to come up with a story.
One year? I went to LL Bean, which stays open on Christmas Day, and did my story as a Christmas carol. To the tune of “Deck the Halls.”
Deck the halls with racks of Hollofill
Parkas, vests and pants, and hullaballoo
It went on to:
If you hate your new apparel
Stand in line
Take it back!
Another day I had to do a story about the people who were working on Christmas. So I did that to the Twelve Days. I wont batter your sensibilities with the entire thing, but here’s part of it that I remember:
On the first day of Christmas, I found a worker bee
A barista giving coffee for free.
On the fourth day of Christmas, I found some worker bees
Two firefighters waiting
Three cops patrolling
Four nurses smiling
And a barista giving coffee for free.
On the fifth day of Christmas, I found some worker bees:
And it went on.
But the thing is—as a reporter, there are no personal Christmases. And you still have to write, the very most creatively you can.
As an author, now, in addition, that may disappear, too. My deadline for the new book is January 1. Ah, do I write Christmas cards? Or write my book?
Do we get a tree? And decorate it with all red bows and candy canes? Or do I write my book?
Do I make Christmas dinner for my family and grandkids, with prime rib and Yorkshire pudding and puffy apple tart? And then light the Chanukah candles? Or write my book?
Okay, I make the dinner. And the candles. And then I write the book.
But no tree. And you’ll get your holiday cards from me—for New Years. Okay?
The holidays are the time you realize the glorious wonderful challenging life-changing glory of writing your book is your first priority. Always. Always.
We can write longer than usual on the 26th, right? The first day of Chanukah is the 24th, too, right? So yes, we’ll go back to our keyboards the 26th.
But we know we will do it.
The need, the obsession, the joy to the world of writing is something personal and timeless and yes, we can take a break. We can! Because there’s nothing that’s going to keep us from it.
Happiest happiest of holidays, my dear ones.
And the gift is this: We have our imaginations, and our creativity, and our passion. What could be more glorious than that?
How are you juggling your holiday tasks?
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN is the on-air investigative reporter for Boston’s NBC affiliate, winning 33 EMMYs and dozens more journalism honors. The bestselling author of nine mysteries, Ryan’s also an award-winner in her second profession—with five Agathas, two Anthonys, two Macavitys, the Daphne, and Mary Higgins Clark Award. Critics call her “a superb and gifted story-teller.” Her novels have been named as a Library Journal BEST of 2014 and 2015. Her newest novel is SAY NO MORE – Jeffery Deaver says, “Superb!” and a Library Journal starred review says “Ryan does it again.” Hank is a founder of MWA University and 2013 president of National Sisters in Crime. Visit www.HankPhillippiRyan.com.
Hank’s latest mystery release, SAY NO MORE, is a Library Journal BEST of 2016!