Merry Christmas, one and all! I hope you all got as much wonderful coal in your Christmas stocking as I did!
Yesterday I had a Christmas call from my son and daughter-in-law –from the UK where they live in the future (and you all thought that was Australia). I know it was the future, because they’d just finished their brandy butter with a little Christmas pudding on the side (My son’s theory is Christmas pudding is a penance to make up for the joy of brandy butter, sometimes called ‘hard sauce’ – maybe because it is made with hard liquor? Couldn’t be because it is hard…)
Actually, my daughter in law is on duty at her hospital on Christmas day, so they were having Christmas dinner together, early. When you sit down at yours – spare a thought and raise a glass for those who will be working this Christmas, away from home and celebrations. Doctors, nurses, soldiers, fireys, the guy-wot-fixes-electrical-outages, even volunteer ambulance officers (yes, I am on call for it.) Without them… celebration would be a much more risky time, quite possibly, nothing to celebrate.
Anyway, among other things, to much laughter from the kids, I was describing my adventures in solo construction. I explained how I had to lift the shed with a crowbar to put in the floor-joists, and trifling inconvenience of having a small shed on edge balanced on your crowbar – and trying to have extra limbs to move the floor-joist framework… It’s amazing what you can do with your feet, and how long your arms can be… And just how inclined to slither just out of reach things can also be.
My son said: “Dad, have you ever tried NOT building something roof first?”
I said: “Son. I’m a writer. I wouldn’t know how to do that.”
Which has a bonus point of being a true statement throughout.
I mean, it is perfectly normal for writers to construct a great, big, heavy, overarching thing, which has to hang in the air exactly the way bricks don’t. Then they scramble about with crowbars, inappropriate bits of lying around timber and pieces of firewood, to try and stop it descending with a sickening crunch, probably on top of them.
The problem being –as a writer—that if you can’t build that roof, then the floor, walls, bearers and struts, wiring and plumbing are pretty useless. You don’t if the roof can be built until you build it complete. Pantsers – those who write by the seat of their pants, are possibly inclined to build at least one wall. Well. Sometimes. Maybe. Plotters definitely get the whole framework hanging in the air, before indulging in walls. I would say plumbing was ALWAYS an optional extra, which probably accounts for the constipated look common to most award winning authors.
Still – your stories will stay up better if you add walls and trusses and bearers and the like. Computers and word processing make it possible to do later. And a chimney is almost essential! Even on your space-ship.
Why you ask?
Duh. Trust me on this. I’ve been a stand-in for Santa a few times, and squeezing down air-conditioning pipes plays havoc with a beard. Chimneys are much better.
Ok, gotta dash. A friend’s asked me to fill in on a few little delivery jobs, bringing good cheer and all that. Remember to put out a coconut macaroon and a glass of rum… uh a mince-pie and a glass of sherry. Ho ho ho…
And remember, Christmas Spirit is not JUST what you drink.
Peace and goodwill to all.
So: Merry Christmas again, and good writing to you!