Tracy S. Morris

Quirky Mysteries, Screwball Fantasy and Sassy History

Capturing Christmas–The Writer’s Gift

Written By: Tracy - Dec• 13•11

Today’s guest blog is by S. A.  Bolich. Her first novel, Firedancer, came out in 2011 from Sky Warrior Books.

As a writer and as a person, I love Christmas, not just because of the crackling excitement that surrounds the season, but because of the deeper magic that comes from the celebration itself. It’s magic too often lost in the crass commercialism and the hectic round of parties and shopping and things we feel we “have” to do at Christmas. Cookies! Wrapping! Decorating! Oh, my!

And yet. . . buried under all the adult moaning and stress, there’s still the kid in us that yearns for–and forever tries to recapture–the specialness of the season that got us so excited when we were little. It wasn’t just the presents. Little kids, even if they aren’t quite aware of it, somehow latch onto the effort their parents on making on their behalf.  I remember how my folks always played innocent about the empty spaces under the tree all the way to Christmas Eve, and then, voilá! There would be this huge mound on Christmas morning, pulled from heaven knew where (mostly the half price sale at a local store on Christmas Eve), because we sure as heck had discovered every possible cranny in that house where you could hide something by the time I was three (I’m the youngest).

One of my favorite memories comes from a Christmas Eve when my grandfather, then a widower for years, showed up to take all us kids to look for Santa.  We drove all over the back roads around our farm in his old Rambler station wagon, all of us peering up at the frosty, starlight sky, looking for a passing sleigh.  To this day I swear I saw something way up there.  And then we got home, and the tree was half buried in presents! Yes! Santa had come while we were gone, and we missed him!  My solemn grandfather laughed and laughed.

The best things you give your kids at Christmas are happy memories, not stuff.

And the best thing we as writers can do is absorb those feelings, the good, the bad, and the stressful, and wind them into our writing.  The joy of my lonely grandfather, whose own children grew up in the Depression when there was no money for such things, watching us tear into the fruits of a more prosperous time. The turkey disaster?  How hard are you going to laugh with the participants in years to come–and can your fantasy heroine burn a feast to her advantage?  The look on your true love’s face when you surprise him with the one thing he really wanted? You think you can’t capture that into words brimming with emotion that will leave your readers in tears?

Christmas memories, for me at least, are a continuing Christmas present from the season to me as a writer, a time when deepest love is allowed to surface even in people who can’t ordinarily show it. And once in a while, I remember to stand still and let magic seep in. I remember standing in our snowy barnyard one Christmas evening looking at the frost sparkling under a full moon and being moved to awe by the stillness and magic of that night.  I could almost hear distant angels singing through time.  I remember the Cheshire grin on my husband’s face one December as he tried to surprise me with a new saddle (sorry, honey, but the wonderful smell of new leather gave it away).  And I remember the tradition of eating by candlelight on Christmas Eve that I, and most of my siblings, honor to this day.

Whether or not you acknowledge the religious meaning of the season, there is an indelible magic to Christmas that shines through, that keeps us anticipating, that settles into our hearts and drives out the Scrooge despite every vow to just bag the whole thing next year.

Memories are the stuff from which we spin stories. I hope your Christmas memories will always be good ones, and the resulting stories magical.

S. A. Bolich is a fulltime freelancer of fantasy and science fiction. Her first novel, Firedancer, came out in September 2011 from Sky Warrior Books.  Her short fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, On Spec, Damnation Books, the anthologies Defending the Future IV: No Man’s Land, and Wolfsongs 2, among others, and has received Honorable Mentions from both Writers of the Future and The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror.  Currently she is working on Windrider, the sequel to Firedancer, as well as an alternate history series using an unexplored explanation of what really happened in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. You can learn more about her at www.sabolichbooks.com or join her on Facebook.

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