I grew up in a hyper-religious family, but we celebrated Christmas as a secular holiday. No stars, no angels, no managers. Since Jesus’ exact birth date could not be confirmed, we stripped religion from the celebration. Just Santa, Rudolph, and elves. God wasn’t missing from our lives since we went to church three times a week. Around Christmastime friends of mine whose families weren’t very religious went to church for midnight mass, nativity plays or productions of Handel’s Messiah. I felt like I was missing out.
As I grew older, commercialism, the thing that Charlie Brown warned about, got the better of me. I wanted a real tree that touched the ceiling, perfectly wrapped expensive gifts, and a big joyous spectacle around an immaculate living room with a blazing fire. The sorts of things I’d seen on TV and desired. To me, it was the tangible visualization of what a perfect Christmas should look like.
Regardless, the Christmas celebrations were great. I celebrated not only with my immediate family, but with my wonderful grandparents and in later adolescent years with aunts, uncles, and cousins. It never looked like the staged 30 second commercials or glossy Hollywood productions, but it was plenty. My wistfulness was satiated by the actual moments of giving, receiving, eating, and overall family love.
Although different, the wants of an author have similar parallels. Most of us probably have a strong desire to be read by the masses and well respected. Some may want to live the life of a multi-million book seller like Stephen King, James Patterson, or Danielle Steele. (Here is a list of the all-time best selling authors). Maybe a writer’s dream includes an unrealistic visions of exotic cars and mansions. In reality this only happens to less than 1% of writers. However, we should enjoy the craft of writing and publishing, and try to achieve the highest level of success while being satisfied that we are creating new experiences for future readers.
Desire is both healthy and unhealthy. Wanting to improve is a good thing. To be stagnant and not grow in the time one has on earth is a wasted opportunity. Wanting material goods or success for vanity’s sake, however, will probably open an abysmal hole for a lifetime of dissatisfaction. The key is to do the best you can and enjoy the moment. (I think I am repeating this last line for myself since humans tend to follow patterns.)
I’m wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. May your days be joyful brimming with writing contentment, and may you strive for constant improvement.
Travis Richardson has been a finalist for the Macavity short story award in 2014 and 2015 as well as the Anthony short story award in 2014. His novella LOST IN CLOVER was listed in Spinetingler Magazine’s Best Crime Fiction of 2012. He has published stories in crime fiction publications such as Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, Flash Fiction Offensive, and All Due Respect. He edits the Sisters-In-Crime Los Angeles newsletter Ransom Notes, reviews Anton Chekhov short stories at http://www.chekhovshorts.com,
and sometimes shoots a short movie. His novella, KEEPING THE RECORD, concerns a disgraced baseball player who will do anything to keep his tainted home run record. “Quack and Dwight” is his latest short story and can be found in the Anthology JEWISH NOIR. www.tsrichardson.com