When one decides to pen a “writing” themed blog, one must be prepared for creativity. If I had the foresight to call my blog, Raymond’s Random Thoughts, there would exist an enormous idea pool from which to draw my articles. I went with writing, so I feel a responsibility to maintain the theme. I suppose the challenge provides opportunity for me to stretch my powers of creativity. Every idea that crosses my mind requires I find some connection between that idea and writing. It’s often harder than figuring new creative ways to mention MY BOOK in the course of casual conversation. So you might wonder how on earth I can connect public religion into a relevant post for a blog titled Writing in a Dead World. Pretty much through the verbal influence technique of Pacing and Leading…add a ellipsis for dramatic effect (since grammatically they serve no purpose in that spot).
So lets start with my contention. In the land of public religion there is sparse time to write. If you are an American writer, any writing that you achieve deserves much credit because of the minuscule amount of time you have to actually write. Writers in other countries have more time because few suffer the distraction and celebratory requirements imposed by our public religious calendar..in other words…holidays. In truth and fact, the average American novelist has about eight to ten weeks of writing time. Follow along and I’ll explain…(more dramatic pauses).
As a melting pot of people and their religions and in fairness to all, Americans embrace many celebrations. If not for the sheer size and magnitude of count, we might get more vacation time at work. In my company I have ten paid holidays. That’s two weeks of time-off from work that I would probably be better served with if they were mine to use as I pleased. Instead they are spread out across various Mondays throughout the year. Our public holidays, while important to national identity (and fully embraced by the Church of Consumerism), create a very real obstacle to a writer’s focus.
Since I don’t want to take sides on any particular religion, let’s just use the Pagan calendar as a chronological discussion of these distractions. For that purpose, the year begins on November 1st and three Thursdays later we encounter the first of many public religion holidays – Thanksgiving. While our friends across the pond (who booted the pilgrims out and should bear at least some of the responsibility for my Turkey coma), they have already had ample time to holiday shop and put up their Christmas lights( it is morally corrupt to put up Xmas decorations before black Friday in the States unless you live in rural Kentucky). We Americans dutifully spend time at the grocery store and in deciding if we should visit Pier One and decorate in Fall and Turkey Themes. Immediately following a day of binge eating and of rationalizing that it makes more sense to begin our diet later, we begin preparation for the next holiday – usually by shopping or going to the movies.
The Christmas celebration is not reserved for Christians. Sans the incredible pressure placed on credit cards, I have Jewish and Hindu friends who do every bit as much celebrating and eating as the rest of us. Christmas is a public religion in the US and sponsored by Wal-Mart and Best Buy. During this period there is almost no time for writing anything but holiday to-do lists. As part of the ceremony’s end, we take the final evening of the year to drown our overspending by overspending on Champaign and paper hats. Trust me “drunk writing” is a mistake both for novels and text messaging.
The holiday is followed by a brief six-week period when a writer can get back to work. Planning goals, outlining, maybe even penning a chapter or two, and investing in charities like Gold’s Gym and Planet Fitness. Soon after, however, the Celebration of Hallmark, Roses, and Restaurants is upon us. This is a traditional celebration that takes place on the 14th of February and must be observed regardless of the day of the week it falls and the inconvenience of going out after a long day at work.
The Holiday of Materialism Proves You Love Me, is marked by a series of product price increases that defy every known law of economics. A dozen roses that cost $19.99 for fifty-one weeks of the year become $49.99 and the average $35 dinner for two increases to $100. If you are in a relationship, your beloved will hand out punishment for any failure to participate. I know tight-fisted chief financial officers who succumb to the pressure and throw off all financial logic. The upside for the married is the odds significantly increase of seeing your wife exchange sweat pants for lingerie and statistically speaking there are more births in November than any other month…I’ll wait while you count off the months.
The arrival of cupid marks the beginning of the almost perpetual public cycle of Hallmark celebrations. It is shortly followed by green beer drinking homage paid to St Patrick, followed by Peter Rabbit day, which supports the American Candy and Egg association before we again return to the dictates of our religious leaders at Hallmark and American Greetings Company…which by the way is owned by Canadians who laugh at our consumer folly.
On the heels of rabbits is Mother’s Day. As if your mom’s birthday wasn’t enough, rather than writing her a book, you must now engage in further gift buying, dinners, trips to the salon, and another lost weekend. While it is important to celebrate mom’s value, it is important to note (and then dismiss) that the majority of the mother’s day tab is picked up by dad because five-year olds don’t have jobs and to note that we already covered it all when we celebrated her birthday and romanced her on the 14th of February. (Men if you know what’s good for you, you will not apply this argument in any discussion with your wife or girlfriend)
A few weeks later we honor the memory of those who served in combat (which is somehow different from Veterans day although I don’t know how since Veterans Day is technically a floating holiday and requires no action on my part). Memorial Day provides us with a Monday off in May. A good time since the weather is perfect and we don’t want to be writing anyway. To honor those who fought for freedom we cook hot dogs, go to parades and are allowed to consume beer before noon. Writers without children can now enjoy a few weeks at their craft. Those with children are too busy with end of the school year things and figuring out summer daycare or activities to keep the kids busy for eight to ten weeks now that the public nannies are off for the summer.
The summer is short so we move immediately into the celebration of Dads. This usually involves another cook out and Dad’s commitment to give up his normal fun weekend stuff by committing to direct interactions with his off-spring – I’m pretty certain this “holiday” was a woman’s idea of delayed punishment for forgetting Valentine’s Day.
Our next celebration is just a few weeks later, when we honor the birth of our country. It is important to note that the Rebellion of the Colonies was the result of a 2% tax on tea. According to that logic we should probably overthrow Starbucks for the 6% they add to our coffee. The Twilight Zone Marathon holiday looks much like Memorial day in that it has parades, hot dogs and beer. As a distinction however, we get to play with explosives manufactured in China where they are well-known for their safety standards. 4th of July is partially sponsored by the American Association of Emergency Room Doctors and Attorneys who specialize is DUI defense. Even if a writer wanted to write and hadn’t lost a few fingers during the celebration, the noise would probably prevent the practice.
There is a brief period for writing at the conclusion of the 4th. Assuming a writer is not taking vacation, he or she has a few weeks until the critical celebration of Back to School. Once the Back to School celebration begins however, there is far too much shopping to be completed, for the student writer there is a new term of classes, and for the rest of us, we need to do more shopping for the Labor Day celebration whereas we have a final cook out while minimum wage workers ring up our last-minute beer, ice and propane gas purchases. The celebration serves to punish people who haven’t obtained a salaried position outside of public service and retail.
Smart writers need to capitalize on the next few weeks because soon the calendar gives way to America’s second biggest holiday behind Christmas – Halloween.
Based on actual sales figures, if you added gift buying to the Halloween celebration in America, it would surpass Christmas in consumer spending. Costumes, candy, decorations, parties – those cost surpass the money spent on the same categories at Christmas. It is the best month for a horror writer, but with all of the activities, one cannot be tied to a desk writing, one needs to be immersed in the spookiness. It also marks the end of the Pagan Calender as we prepare for the return to Thanksgiving. Ah the circle of religious life.
If you have written a book in the midst of all these distraction then take a freakin’ bow – you deserve it. If you haven’t don’t feel bad, as with all the holidays who could blame you. You have little time for writing as you perpetually support our public religion and foster the economy for a better tomorrow. And if you need to point the blame then point it at that writer Charles Dickens. He did after all single-handedly create this chaos when he wrote The Grinch Who Stole Christmas or maybe it was the Christmas Carol. Well regardless – Happy Thanksgiving!