One of the markers I use to gauge how mentally healthy I am at any given time is the stuff that I am writing. As all writers know, your writing is an indication of your mental state; some writers even use writing to change their current mental state. It is like a giant feedback loop. Your mood affects your writing; your writing affects your mood.
Last week, while I was supposed to be studying for finals, I had a couple of evenings where my brain absolutely refused to do any more schoolwork. I find myself cruising the internet, looking for distraction. While on Facebook one night, a friend of a friend joked about giving someone a lump of coal for Christmas. I seconded the notion, then found myself wondering how much a lump of coal actually would cost. So I googled it.
What I discovered was that a lot of companies were selling lump of coal themed products. Looking at the date, I decided that it was way too late in the season to write a Christmas shopping article. Ha! The idea and one other just stuck in my head.
Today, I broke down and wrote the artiicles. The shopping piece might do me some good next Christmas season. I never actually have time to write Christmas articles during the time that internet writers are uploading them; a pesty thing called the University of Colorado at Denver gets in the way and takes up most (if not all) of my writing time during the height of that season. As a result, I have no Christmas test articles out there---I know a lot of writers have a big stock of Christmas articles online, but I have no idea how many pageviews they are getting. Are Christmas articles (or any holiday articles) worth the time and effort necessary to write them? I don't know. I need to find out. So I now have a test Christmas shopping article up on Associated Content---oh wait, it is now the Yahoo Contributer Network.
The other piece I wrote was simply to get it out of my head. It was a short semi-fictional piece about my mother playing Christmas music in July. My mom playing Christmas music in July is not the fictional part. That is some god's honest truth; she actually plays Christmas music in July. Don't ask why---I never figured it out. I have also never figured out why I get the urge to play Christmas music in July either.
This is not the first semi-fictional piece I have done about my family. The first one I did was actually done for an Introduction to Fictional Writing class I took at the Community College of Denver. It was a piece about the time I fell down the stairs at school and said a few choice words. The assignment was to fictionize a real memory; in my case, it was already partially fictionized (because my memories of it consisted of my father telling me the story). I never published that piece; maybe someday I will (mainly because I like the story).
The first semi-fictional family piece I actually published to the web (first on Helium, then on AC) was a piece about recieving a fruitcake for Christmas. (Lump of coal---fruitcake---there seems to be a pattern there.) It is definitely fiction. For one thing, I actually like fruitcake. The second thing is...well, I took liberties with how I depicted one of my relatives. It is still one of my favorite pieces.
Unfortunately, short fiction does not generate a lot of pageviews. There is also the little fact that it involves my family...it is semi-fiction; there is a grain of truth in there somewhere. It is that last part that promises always to get me into trouble. Comedy about one's family is not the way to go if you want peaceful familial relationships. It is time like this (when I have written pieces that I like, but know other people will be upset by) that I find myself wondering if other writers and entertainers also have this problem.
Oh well, odds are (if I am being honest) that none of my family will ever read the stories in the first place. Which is even more depressing than them being upset with me. But I suspect that is true of half the writers in the world. I have this theory that as a writer you have a fifty/fifty chance of your family loving everything you write or absolutely hating everything you write. The universe is balanced---I just got the pillar of severity section in this particular regard.
Nevertheless, for some reason (well beyond my ability to reason it out) I had the urge to write a semi-fictionized piece about my family around the holiday season---again. I think I see a pattern forming here.