Writer and Author

Tag: Christmas

The January Blues…

The last of the Christmas decorations have been boxed up and put away and the rapidly moulting tree was dragged off down to the recycling centre this morning.  The house now looks twice the size and impossibly, depressingly bare.

I was ready to scream if the tinsel and the baubles had stayed up one more night but predicably now they’re gone for another year I’m in the dumps.  It’s probably got a lot to do with the rather uncertain forcast for 2009 and the fact that I’m actually going to have to settle on one project to start on and just pray it earns some money.

Its a weird thing to be moaning about I know.  I might be temporarily lacking in steady employment but I’m not exactly short of avenues to explore.  The January cold and gloom though makes it feel like those times in the dim and distant past when the heating kept going off because you’d forgotten to pay the bill and you didn’t answer knocks at the door in case it was someone looking for money (yes I’m old enough to remember the days before Ireland became the land of milk and honey).

Rationally I know times have changed beyond recognition and I’m no longer an eighteen year old calling herself a writer when she got into conversations with other people in the queue for the Dole.  Now I actually am a writer and the book’s available in all good bookshops.  But sitting in the newly denuded living room with nothing much to do in the middle of the afternoon and no one to talk to but the cat, it really doesn’t feel any different.

I know there’s stuff I should be doing, emails I should be sending, phonecalls I should be making, but today January just got on top of me and optimism just seemed a stretch too far.  Tomorrow I’ll go round the bookshops, maybe sign some more copies (honestly it was my publisher’s idea, I’m not just a desperate meglomaniac) and rev myself myself up to the relentlessly cheerful state of mind that I usually manage to keep up until the leaves come back on the trees and I don’t have to fake it any more.

But some days were just meant to be bad and the cold, grey empty ones lend themselves to it easier than others.  The decorations are away and it’s time to start the new year for real…tomorrow.

Getting ready to write…theoretically…

It happens every year, during those dead days when the presents and the turkey and the Christmas pud start to feel overly familiar.  The last few days when the New Year has been rung in but the tree’s still up and tedium reigns supreme.

We stick to the old twelve days of Christmas in our house.  The new year doesn’t start in earnest until January 6th when the tree is brought down for recycling and the decorations get zipped back up into their Ben & Jerry’s cooler bag and stowed in a cupboard while the days gradually get longer.

I’ve always waited until the 6th to take down the decorations.  January 6th was my dad’s birthday (he died when I was a baby) and it always seemed in some way appropriate to celebrate Twelth Night for him.  The husband holds a similar superstition and so up stay the decorations and all resolutions are put off until they’ve gone away.

To be honest, there’s not really much choice.  We live in a little terraced house and once the tree’s gone up, there’s limited room in the main living area.  With other drawers and cupboards hidden by laiden branches, my desk (in a corner of this main room – would probably be an idea to move but I like where it sits, in a little cubby hole under the stairs) become the repository for all the festive detritus that doesn’t have a home.

As I write I’m looking at three presents that haven’t yet been given, a bowl of Christmas chocolates and another one of nuts, various festive cds and dvds, a cat pencil sharpener that squeals whenever you sharpen a pencil by sticking it up it’s bum (ok that sort of lives there and was a Christmas present), various lengths of ribbon left over from present wrapping and six rolls of Sellotape and two tubes of Araldite glue.  I might not be the most consientious house frau but even by my standards that’s pretty ridiculous!

I know the obvious answer is to have a more minimalist Christmas but that’s something I just can’t bring myself to do.  For me Christmas is a puddle of light in an otherwise grim season and it’s a festival I always embrace wholeheartedly.  The other eleven months the house work can go hang if I’m on a deadline or the inspiration is actually doing what it’s supposed to.  But for the few weeks from the second week of December until the end of the first week in January I morph into a Stepford Wife and the writing tends to take a back seat.

Consequently once the end of the season is only a few days away the tension starts building.  Quite apart from all the work I know I have to do starting Monday (invoices to write, emails to send, a book trailer to shoot and some heavy editing to get stuck into) I’m itching to get the hoover out and vacuum up all the pine needles (my inner Stepford hasn’t quite evaporated yet).

I feel quite irritable all the time, waiting for the year to get started and to clear the festivities away for another year.  Because at the end of all, while I love Christmas and I wouldn’t change the way we do it for love or money, after a few weeks off I’m brimming with ideas and I can’t wait to get back into that zone again and start work.

In the mean time I’m doing what I can.  This is one resolution I can keep up in the brief interludes of peace I can find and the rest will follow next week.  Roll on the 6th!

Christmas Windows and Travel Plans…

I’m off to Ennis tomorrow as part of the Devil in the Red Dress push…more book signing and interviews in a quick round trip.  Last time I was there I was researching the book, this time it’s published and on the shelves.

There’s less pressure this time round but it’s still a busy enough schedule…why the train trip needs two changes I will never understand!  Plenty of people want to go to Ennis, why do they make it so awkward to get there?

Still I’m looking forward to it.  It’s a pretty little town, not to mention the fact it’s the setting for my action…I’m also taking the opportunity to catch up with some friends so it’ll be fun.

In between interviews this week I’ve been trying to make some headway into the whole Christmas palaver.  The Christmas windows have been up for the last couple of weeks and as usual they’re light years away from the fairytale visions that used to make a trip in to go Christmas shopping so much fun years ago.  It’s something that bugs me every year.

Back then you could go and look at the windows for Brown Thomas, Clerys or the Daddy of them all, Switzers and see moving puppets telling a Christmas story.  These days it’s all about making a stylish buck.  The shop owners won’t give the hard sell a rest for a couple of weeks during a season when people will always go shopping regardless.

It all changed several years ago when Switzers closed down and Brown Thomas took over.  The Switzers window used to be famous.  It would be unveiled without much pomp at around the same time as the Christmas lights went up on Grafton Street.

First look would always be at night.  I can remember stopping on my way home from a night out when I was in my twenties and the window was there in all it’s glory.  There were a few of us there and we all stopped and listened to the Christmas tunes belting out across the icy street and walked slowly along the length of the shop watching the animated story unfold in each successive window.

There were dozens of people there by the time we got to the last window.  Everyone was smiling and talking and laughing and it was suddenly just that little bit closer to Christmas and a little bit of cynicism had melted away.

Those days are long gone now though.  In these times of economic uncertainty I notice that even the more ornate displays carry price tags (once banished for the festive period).  Arnotts on Henry St has probably made the best effort with a miniature city glowing around the designer clad dummies.

Brown Thomas, where the Switzers windows used to be is this  year just a celebration of consumerism.  Maybe I’m being needlessly nostalgic but I think it’s sad that those windows are consigned to an Ireland long gone.  The Celtic Tiger has died or is at least in serious decline, it would have been nice to see shop owners do something just for the fun of it…something to make the kids happy and make it seem a little more like Christmas.

A gesture like that might even encourage more people into their shops than dangling shiny goods in front of their noses that will just put more strain on the credit card.

Now ok, this Christmas I’d rather people concentrated on buying books (I have a vested interest after all) but I miss the Christmas windows and I’d like to see them back!  Who’s with me?

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