Happy Thanksgiving!

Years ago, my son declared Thanksgiving was going to be his favorite holiday—because it always got ignored and lost between Halloween and Christmas. (He tries, but I’m thinking Christmas and his birthday still win out.) Stores skip it over entirely as they are now stocking Christmas ornaments in the back section of Halloween decorations and candy. There’s a big uproar this year over whether stores should open to entice shoppers in Thanksgiving evening at 6 p.m. rather than at 12:00:01 a.m. on Black Friday. Workers are picketing stores; some friends are signing petitions saying they’re opting out to stay home with family; other shoppers have been in tents in front of stores since Monday morning. It’s all a bit nuts.

Me, I’m trying to get back to some of the basics of holidays. Thanksgiving will be about what we are thankful for and good food for everyone to enjoy. There’s time enough for Christmas over the next 35 days or so.

Last year, there were issues around the holiday. A major sewer pipe collapsed the week before Thanksgiving, ruining plans for my son’s birthday and wreaking havoc for the next six weeks. The refrigerator gave out the following week, pretty much ruining Thanksgiving itself. I was just grateful we didn’t have plans for company. I realized things had been strange for a while when the kids announced they didn’t like holidays any more because bad things happened during them. *argh*

This year’s Thanksgiving season didn’t get off to a good start—I got laid off from my day job unexpectedly at the end of September. That was a shocker. The totally unanticipated loss of income heading into the holiday season, needing to find a new job in this economy, and trying to maintain my writing while intensively job hunting added instant stress. There was a real chance this year’s holiday season was going to actually be worse than last year’s, which I hadn’t thought was possible.

And yet, it’s not. I am so thankful for so many things going into this holiday season. Thanksgiving will be truly a time of grateful giving of thanks in my household for so many things:  My husband and children. The security of my house. That I found a wonderful new job that fits me perfectly, and it allows me to work from home. That I was able to pick up some freelance work. I am so thankful—and humbled—to have the opportunity to pursue my dream of writing. I give thanks pretty much daily for my wonderful agent. I have a new appreciation for wonderful friends around the world who keep in touch electronically and support me emotionally during trying times. And I’m also thankful for things that didn’t happen—no new disasters on the appliance/home front. [knock wood]

Fall is a transitional time—moving out of Summer, reaping the harvest of the hard work from the rest of the year, arranging things to do our version of hibernating, enjoying the quiet stillness of Winter until the new spring arrives. I look at Thanksgiving as an opportunity to reassess the bounty of our lives and remind myself to live up to the name of the day and give thanks for all that has come my way this year.

Wishing you and yours a very happy and heartfelt Thanksgiving!

Filling in the Gaps

One issue with being unpublished is a lack of quick and easy subject matter for postings to websites, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. My published friends are cheering over completed scenes, moaning over deadlines, freaking over writer’s block for the next book, celebrating sales or rereleases, Tweeting reminders of release and signing dates, eagerly anticipating the first look at their cover art, and coping with reviews—good or bad. Fun and fascinating photos are going up—fabulous photos of their book tour (or research tour), the newly released cover art, the foreign version of their cover art, the arrival of books in the mail, their book-themed tchotkas, hot pics of the Hollywood types who were their character inspirations. Fun stuff that is nice to “like”, “share”, reTweet, or comment on. And easier to do that than face writing our own posts.

The rest of us? Still waiting. Nothing new to report. Our deadlines are still self-imposed, and therefore not as urgent…at least, they don’t seem enough so to post something somewhere. Especially, if, say, it was looking like it was going to be a missed deadline. (That’s just talking yourself down.) When our supporting friends from the kids’ school, church, or work say, “Hey, what’s new with the book!?”, we smile brightly and say, “Yeah…Still waiting.” Do folks actually still care that we’re working on the next manuscript?

I try to keep my day-to-day life somewhat separate from my author persona. Easier some days than others. I’ll mention my kids sometimes, but have no plans to become a mommy blogger. I just changed jobs in “the real world”. It made for a stressful couple of months, impacted NaNo deadlines, and generally threw me off schedule. Yet, it’s not something I’m going to be laying out into print in anything but generalities. Not many topics to pull from there.

The writing life includes the plateaus and the down hill slides as well as the steadily-slogging-upwards parts. Those just aren’t as much fun—or as easy—to share. And yet…it is critical that the website get updated, Facebook stays fresh, and Tweets go out. It is probably even more critical that these updates actually encourage readers to stay and return, rather than driving them away with damp grey skies and Eyeore-like pronouncements of doom.

Nope, being an author isn’t always sunshine and unicorns, but as long as I’m not batting away flying monkeys with a flaming broom, that’s okay. It’s the life I chose for myself, and worked hard for. So, like Milo in The Phantom Tollbooth, I’ll slog through the doldrums, not let myself get distracted or discouraged, and break through to the other side. It might just take a while.