Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Writer's Christmas Tree

Writing a novel is a lot like putting up a Christmas tree.

Think about it.

First of all, there's procrastination. You stare at the box, i.e. your computer. You think, I really need to get the tree out of the box. (really need to sit down and actually start typing.) But motivation is low. You stare for a few days, then realize you really do need to get busy or Christmas will pass you by, along with all the opportunities for your novel in today's market.

So, you roll up your sleeves, eat a piece of chocolate, and dig in. The limbs scratch your arm as you wrestle the tree into submission, connecting pieces, dodging bugs and spiders that snuck into the box when you weren't looking. You mutter and groan and grunt and huff, until finally, the tree is in place, firmly in its stand, and your novel has a foundation.

You celebrate with another piece of chocolate.

Then you realize while the foundation is secure, the branches look awful. You start fluffing the limbs as you add more depth and detail to your story.

When you step back, the tree is fluffed and if you're like me, you've bought a pre-lit one, so you're feeling pretty good about the whole thing. Despite the stinging on your arms, you think, that wasn't so bad. This is actually going to work. I can do this. I am Christmas Tree Queen. I am a writing warrior. This story (tree) is going to be the best I've ever had! People will come from miles around to see my tree! (buy my book!) I will be known!

Motivation is now at its peak. You eat more chocolate to keep up the glow as you pull out the tubs of ornaments. Nothing can stop you now!

You begin adding ornaments to your tree, fleshing out characters, adding subplots that enhance your story's theme. Candy canes and snowmen and Rudolph and an unidentified object from third grade all get hung willy-nilly on the branches. You move so fast, you're a blur. A sparkly penguin here, a couple of pages of witty dialogue there. You, and your tree, are rockstars.
Finally finished, you're eating another piece of chocolate when you realize the tree that looked so glorious just a moment ago now seems...crowded. Stuffed, really, even more than you as you unbutton your jeans to breathe. You collapse on the living room floor, covered in lost needles, and eat the rest of the bag of chocolate as you mourn the loss of your creative art. You're a washup. A has-been that never was. A loser. This is the worst tree in the entire world. The few people that will bother to read your book will point and laugh. There's no best seller list. There's only media jokes and teasing in the streets. You suck. Your tree sucks. And your book sucks.




Until the chocolate coma clears, and you sit up, pine limbs sticking from your matted hair, brown drool on your cheek, and think "I can fix this."

Slowly, carefully, you begin taking down ornaments. You really didn't need six side characters or ten strings of garland. The disco ball on top of the tree can go, and so can those extra pages of witty dialogue that really, aren't that funny anymore.

You keep shaving, trimming, working, until finally...your tree is beautiful. Simple. Subtle. Glowing from within. Exactly how you'd pictured the entire time, except somehow, better, because the tree taught you a lesson. You learned that less is more. That clear,concise writing is better than fluff. That a little glitz goes a long way.

And as you head to the store to buy jeans in a larger size, contentment in your heart, exhaustion in your eyes, you realize that maybe, just maybe, Christmas trees aren't supposed to be about getting famous or being known. Maybe they're supposed to just draw attention to the One who created Christmas in the first place.
And He thinks your tree is beautiful.


  1. I love this post! It was very inspiring. :)


  2. Oh yay! This was so great! Love the comparisons, Betsy! And not just because I'm a Christmas nut :)

  3. I love the analogy! Very creative :-)
    ~ Bethany L.

  4. What a cool analogy! Loved this, Betsy! :o)

  5. Aww! I'm there with you girl, right down to the chocolate drool. :)

    With that bit of inspiration, I think I need to get back to work!