Christmas Was All I Wrote

You know when I love writing?   Not when I remember at the last minute that it’s my day to post, and I haven’t started the short story I promised for the fifteenth…  There are lots of days I don’t write.  But I believe I can write, and I know I write well, when I bother to do it.  I especially love writing when I am so convinced I’ve gotten it right that I start crying.

Most of the Mermaids know that I spent a good twenty years out of the writing loop. I’d hung up my keyboard, decided the life wasn’t for me. But, secretly, I was lying.
Because of the one thing I did write:  Christmas letters. Every year, I set myself a deadline and I wrote the absolute best Christmas letter I possibly could write. This was my way of proving to myself that I could write, and write well.

My letters always had a title. They always had a message. I condensed a year of family news into a single page. They were funny. I slaved for funny. But it was the last paragraph that got the most attention.

My letter always ended with one paragraph that hit it home. I didn’t stop writing until I felt the tears rolling down my cheeks because I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this one paragraph would make the season. I actually got fan mail for my Christmas letters.

I was watching The Natural on ESPN Monday night and was reminded of how I burst into tears at the ending the first time I saw it. That, I told Mr. Headofthehousehold, is what I want with my writing. I want to write like that. Like I wrote in my Christmas letters. But in book length. And then last night, I told him I would write three chapters before school starts, so I can call my book done. At last.

Do you have moments like this? When clarity seems to strike and you have an idea of where you’re supposed to be going? Even if you’re wrong, it seems like the right way to go.

Write it fast. Get it done. And make yourself cry. Because doing less is not an option.

I have until Monday. And this post was late, because (gulp) I was starting another chapter.




About Susan Jeffery

I am loving the challenge (sometimes) of re-entering the contemporary romance market after a lifetime of raising two fantastic children (it never ends, btw). Just when I thought I was done with kids, I accepted a position as librarian to 900 boys in a Bronx private school. I'm a vintage published author, Harlequin American #206 Fair Game (1987). Winner of the Golden Heart, 1986. Currently exploring the possibility of indie publishing under my new pseudonym (see fresh name, above).

22 thoughts on “Christmas Was All I Wrote

  1. My mer-sis! Love the post…and yes, there are those moments when all is right (and write) with the world and for that brief moment in time, it’s good to cry…for joy, for relief, for the moment of knowing ‘truth’ is in that precious spot of time.

    Now, go forth and conquer! Write your heart out! 😉

    1. Thank you! I’m trying, and am “not stuck” (repeat phrase as often as necessary to unstick oneself). Yet.

  2. Ah, love this post, Susan-Mermaid! I always feel really good when I write a blog post actually. It usually doesn’t take me very long but maybe I was procrastinating. Then it’s done and voila, Happy Kerri!

    I totally want to read some of your Xmas letters now. I live for Xmas newsletters. Love them!!!

    1. Kerri, I am almost ashamed to say this post took less than an hour of white-knuckled effort to get out. I posted it, and went back to edit edit edit, then added the images, then edited again when I caught a typo.

      1. Wouldn’t it be nice if I’d saved them? But I don’t save Christmas cards from one year to the next, which is where my fan mail usually showed up. “Looking forward, as always, to your Christmas letter!” And I would drop everything to revise the draft and get the dang thing copied, decorated, stuffed, stamped and mailed.

  3. Hi, Mermaid Susan. I went through a decades-long non-writing spell/drought, too. I used to write great letters, too. Odds are, as you write more for you, your letter writing will fade out. That’s okay. Keep on keepin’ on.

  4. I love the idea of compiling all those letters!!! Go for it!

    And I’m with you. Even when I’m not writing a novel, I am writing anything else I can, from lesson plans for my homeschool kids, to my Sunday School class lessons, to the kids worship service sermon, to my blogs, to even FACEBOOK status’s. 😉 I am a writer at heart.

    1. Thank Katy, did you see my FB status last night? I’d gotten sidetracked (how did that happen?) and spent over an hour just reading status updates. I was exhausted! I still love reading them, though…

  5. I had a friend who always created the most fabulous holiday letter, recapping the entire year in two pages, packed with news you just loved to read, although nothing monumental ever happened. But the way he wrote that letter – it felt epic. So thank you for reminding me of one of my holiday memories (or gifts, he still sends them after 20 years:)!

    1. Thank you, Denny! I’ve re-read a number of the letters this afternoon, and you know what theme I address most often? Time crunch! No wonder people liked them, since I was telling people to slow down – even though I suck at it.

  6. Love your post Susan Mermaid 🙂 And way to go on that chapter. Two left? Write on! I know things are right when I’m on my twentieth round of edits on this story I’ve been working for two years and hubby asks what I’m smiling about and I can honestly say it’s the story. Fishy Kisses!

    1. Thank you for the prod, Carlene! I will have a chapter done tonight, and onward for the last two! This became a “fill in the blanks” book, and I’ve been slogging through the middle chapters all summer. Argh!

      1. Hahaha, let’s take your “fill in the blanks” and my “choose your own romance ending” and call it a well written day!

  7. Susan,
    Congrats on the chapters. I’m so jealous. 🙂
    I, too, want to read these Christmas letters! I think you definitely should compile them. What a fun idea for a book, too.
    I know what you mean about having your own words move you to tears. I love when that happens. It hasn’t happened to me for a while, but, who knows? Maybe tomorrow. After all, “Tomorrow is another day.” 🙂
    Good luck with those final words. Cry your little heart out!

    1. Hi Kim! It’s a good challenge, to compile into a book. Wait — maybe it should be a ghost story! Whoa! Did I just have the beginnings of an idea for the 15th???

  8. Great post, Susan! And yes, that’s a fabulous idea for a short story! Making yourself cry is a great indication of a good story. After all, if you don’t care about your characters, then who will, right? Good luck on those final chapters! You can do it!

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