Tag Archives: christmas

Sleep in Heavenly Peace, Christmas Story

Good news!

I finished the Christmas Carol story! Somehow it totals over three thousand words, blurted out onto my iPad at various opportune moments and filled in where necessary two days before I took it to the group today. I’m sure I’ll pick up problems once I’ve given it a bit of space, but I’m actually very proud of what I’ve done.

I can hardly believe it was completed so sporadically over the course of this month. Most of the time I just glared at it fruitlessly. It feels like I only granted it my full undivided attention five or six times. Yet, in spite of all of this, it fits together cohesively. I love my characters, I love the way the plot unfolds and that all the things I wanted to include were included. A job well done. It even won the Christmas competition!

Having said that, though… I’m free. Free, I tells ya! Free to write other fiction, including my novel. The Christmas story was hanging over me so much I didn’t dare to so much as open the file. Time to get back to my main focus this year.

Watch this space.

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I Didn’t Think Carol Singers Would Be This Much Trouble

But evidently I was wrong.  This Christmas story entry, for anyone who doesn’t know, has to be about carol singers.  A month after receiving this assignment, I have largely accepted that it has thrown me for a loop.

I think I’ve finally figured out why, too.  I mean, the humour aspect tripped me up initially.  I had set myself on the idea of something nostalgic and kind of bittersweet as a theme and only discovered the comedy component to the competition after I’d started writing.  I actually quite like my first attempt and, not being of the mindset to force a square peg into a round hole, have decided to finish that story as a separate project and think up something fresh for the competition.  You know, something which is a bit more built for purpose.

I’ve done that now.  Go, me.  But the real headache factor to this story is twofold.

Firstly, there’s the whole issue of the singing.  Yes, I know, singing is a necessary evil when writing about carol singers.  You can’t exactly not mention it.  It would be like writing about an artist and not mentioning pictures or omitting golf courses from a story about golfing.

But singing is a bit different, isn’t it?  Other character pastimes and professions just involve a bit of research and throwing around some well-placed jargon.  By contrast singing, of any description in storytelling, appears to involve spontaneously breaking into italics and defacing good prose with random sections of out-of-place verse to which the reader may or may not know a corresponding tune.

I’ll tell you what it is.  It’s like a musical.  A prose-based musical.  And I’ve never really been a musicals fan.  The closest I’ve gotten to a favourite musical is probably the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  For real.  I just find the whole practice of bursting into highly choreographed singing and dancing a bit… uncomfortable.  I’m inclined to feel the same way about it onscreen as I would in real life: that perhaps I should call a police community support officer to check your pupils, breathalyse you and escort you home.

So, back to my point, how does one present singing in a story in a manner which doesn’t bring back horrifying memories of song fanfiction?  Everything about trying to drop a song into a piece of fiction comes off like it’s been shoehorned in.  Not to mention the corresponding What I Call Miranda Hart Syndrome.  I mean, when do you stop?  Is two lines enough or do we shoot for a whole verse?  Do you throw in the chorus?  Go for the whole twenty verse extended album version?

Can you just cherry-pick the bits which apply to a character’s subconscious or are international treaties forged on preventing such shows of blinding cheesiness?  It all sounds frightfully close to corny, and Christmas carols already flirt with that old chestnut as it is.

Secondly there’s the door to door thing.  It makes the plot kind of bitty if you’re working from the point of view of the carol singers – which I am.  One house, then another, then another.  It’ll take some serious thought to avoid the story becoming too repetitive, the main danger being distributing the characters and events too evenly.  I think the trick to it will be not to focus on anyone but the most exceptional residents and try to make the story as much about the antics of the carol singers between their visits as possible.

I’m getting to grips with it, slowly.  I actually really like my idea, to be honest.  The problem is, as always, execution.

And, with that, I wish all of you a jolly good week, full of words which are spoken, not sung, and journeys unhindered by surprise bouts of back-up dancing.


The End of the Wor…king Week

Christmas is a time of love and niceness and other such clichés, so I am not going to make any barbs about the Mayan calendar.  Other than the title of this post.

I am sure you will all continue to sense an underlying garnish of sarcasm to my words but that is because I am British.  I can’t help it; I was born this way.  In fact, I maintain that all British people should have a sticker on their cars featuring a man with a pointy tongue spitting acid so that everybody knows a permanent sardonic tone is actually a social impairment which cannot be turned off.  But I digress.

So, in order to demonstrate some Christmas goodwill, I am going to talk to you about something which had really happened to me by the end of the working week.  That’s right: I am attempting to retract the jab in the title.  No catch.  So, here it is.  Enjoy it; it will probably never happen again:

What’s happened is that the dentist and I have pooled our wisdom and concluded my wisdom should be removed.  Wisdom tooth, that is.  As of two days ago, my first new chomper in over ten years has gone rogue and is now digging quite unpleasantly into my jaw muscle because there is no room at the metaphorical inn that is my gum.  Until its highly anticipated exile from my mouth, this enamel treachery has resulted in three dire consequences:

  1. I am now on two lots of antibiotics, one of which apparently gifts me with a spectacularly violent adverse reaction to even a drop of alcohol.  As such, I cannot break into my box of chocolate liqueurs or my birthday box of whiskies for at least another week.
  2. Conveniently, the limit to my jaw movement is just enough that I can no longer eat a Ferrero Rocher, my staple Christmas chocolate.  Late this morning, I had to actually take out a knife and cut one in half in order to make it manageable for me to eat.  It was truly a pitiful affair.
  3. The meds intermittently render my brain a squishy ball of cotton wool whilst the pain itself has nested like a warm nagging hedgehog in my left ear.

All of these problems, of course, pale in comparison to the procedure itself, which I am sure will be awash with tie-dye kittens and candy-flavoured flowers and gingerbread houses with free Wi-Fi.

Still, I have five hundred words of my Christmas carol story now on paper.  One good thing.  I fear it has deviated from the original plan insofar that I appear to have forgotten the ‘carol’ part of the task but, hey, at least it has words in it now.  Turns out I do actually have four bits and pieces to produce for the group, too, but I have until 24th January to pull it all together.  Tons of time.

Oh, wait.  Says here the Christmas thing is meant to actually make people laugh.

…Interesting.  I’ll, uh…  I’ll have to work something out for that.

Anyway!  Merry Christmas, one and all!  Drink your beverages and munch your chocolate, and think of me with my Diet Coke and pots of strawberry jelly.