As a student of the written word with a distaste of wind chill factors and squalls, I know that as we approach the winter months, my personal bear-like hibernation means getting a bunch of work done. And now that Thanksgiving has passed with nothing more than a series of delicious dining treats, followed by pleasant family table discussions, tryptophan naps, and memorable board game defeats, it’s time to dig back into that typewriter and get some work done before your sanity goes all to hell on Christmas. And since you know that you won’t be finishing anything other than a bottle of champagne around New Year’s, which leaves you two full weeks to truly accomplish something by the end of the year.
So, to combat that last rush of finishing up 2008, I’ve taken it upon myself to personally finish teaching my four Fundamentals of Writing classes, editing two books, and completing my own chapbook before Christmas. I feel as though it is a great way to forget about New Year’s resolutions and instead use the stress and shopping speed of the holidays to motivate me to get a pile of work done.
Which leads me to address something else for writers this holiday season besides which gifts to purchase with your overflowing poetic pockets. After much thought about your personal writing goals and after even more list-making and journaling throughout the year, you might decide that to further your career in the writing field, you may want to pursue some new writing adventures.
So what are your options? There are a few things you can prepare for right now to make the most out of the month of December and this holiday season.
First, you can be like my good friend, James, and do something unexpected. Use that money you’ve saved up so dutifully over the last few months, pay off your bills, pack a hiking bag, buy a plane ticket, and get the hell out of the Valley for a while. As much as NEPA’s got a never-ending, meaning a constantly regenerating, amount of weird material to write about, you don’t want to get yourself into a rut by finding out that you have been writing about the same topics cyclically. Honestly, there is a world of crazies out there to write about, you just have to get out and discover them.
Or maybe you haven’t watched enough episodes of “The Office” or “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” to truly experience the great drawing power of the Wyoming Valley. So, secondly, after watching more episodes of Pa. programming, the most affordable route that also allows for the purchase or creation of holiday gifts may lead you to hide out in the comforts of your home in the coal country this season.
For inspiration, you can always take a round-trip ride on the Martz, or take the LCTA, and strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. Another option is to take part in weekly poetry readings and enjoy the atmosphere at Anthology Bookstore, Barnes & Noble and Donahue’s Tavern. Expand your creativity by collaborating with other artists by heading to an art gallery opening or local indie music event. If you are interested in hiding out for the month, you can bundle up and go to one of our area’s many hiking trails (most are empty when the cold weather hits) and enjoy the silence of a snowfall. Or you can stay under the covers, research your favorite writers online, then make a list of publishing places, write your face off, and mail out your work to journals and magazines like you’ve got nothing to lose. The best part of getting your writing in the mail is that it gives you some rejections and acceptances to look forward to in the New Year.
Lastly, you can take full advantage of the month, month and a half that you have left for deadlines, and apply to a Creative Writing program for summer or fall of ’09. The good thing is that most programs have bi-annual entrance dates and the winter seasonal deadline for many is Jan. 1 or Jan. 15. One month is plenty of time to get together a letter of intent or personal statement, a revised resume, a 10-15 page creative work sample, and a completed online application. However, each school has different requirements and the holidays may prove difficult when attempting to get your letters of recommendation (and possibly copies your GRE scores and official transcripts) to the school on time.
But ‘tis the season! Remember, no matter what you do during December, you always have the option of playing “Mario Kart” on the Wii, taking care of your elbow Wiinjuries before Christmas, and waiting to make an amazing New Year’s resolution (like starting that novel that’s been haunting you for years). But really, aren’t most resolutions just a half- drunken proclamation that happens on New Year’s Eve (like what you say with your head hovering above the porcelain life saver, “Ohhh, I’ll never drink again”)? So, it appears that it may be best to do something today instead of putting it off until tomorrow.
Think you’ve got a good plan of attack for December? Think you’ve got a resolution that’ll stick? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.