Welcome back to our new Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years. What’s stayed the same? And what’s changed? We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.
[ Originally posted: December 6th, 2013 ]
‘Tis the SEASON to …
Last year I pretty much gave up shopping—well shopping in the marketing-media frenzy sense, anyway. My passion for books—and the authors I’ve worked with—inspired me to buy their books and send them to family and friends. I enjoyed the “holiday bargains,” of course, but much more than that, I felt as if I was passing forward the legacy of writing (and good story telling) that my self-publishing clients represent.
It was also last year that I seemed to hit a wall of mounting disappointment as I listened to the younger generations of my family and friends talking about their “exasperating,” even “frightening”, holiday shopping experiences. A long-hidden rebellion within me grew and my fingers flew over the keyboard writing op-ed pieces to send to every daily or weekly print publisher. I wanted to make a statement! I wanted THE SEASON to be different! I wanted it to be PEACEFUL! Full of GOOD CHEER! LOVE and LAUGHTER abounding on every block, in every city, town and nation! However, to my own discredit, not one of my pieces was sent. Too many last minute details derailed my fervor. However, this season, I’m thinking of pulling out those pieces—developing them into a book—and self-publishing it in plenty of time for next year’s marketing-media-frenzy.
In the meantime, I hope you’ll join me in a taste of rebellion and allow your thoughts to stroll back to your favorite Holiday Season(s)—and WRITE about them. Besides finding “just what you wanted” under the tree, what other memories do you see? A favorite aunt bringing her deee-licious walnut fudge to Christmas dinner? Your grandmother telling her version of “naughty” stories about your dad? The next door neighbor stopping by with a handmade toy carved from oak wood just for you!
Over the years our family has enjoyed many traditions such as the youngest child placing the ceramic Baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas Eve and attending Christmas Eve church services. One fairly new tradition in our house is watching a made-for-TV movie titled Silent Night. This true-story, produced in 2002, stars Linda Hamilton as the German mother of a young son (age 12) who will soon be conscripted into Hitler’s army. She takes him out of the city to a cabin in the woods—not far from “enemy” lines. It is Christmas Eve, 1944, and unexpected guests arrive: first three American soldiers, then three German soldiers. She demands a truce between them—for this one night.
You may be wondering why this movie? Simple answer. It inspired me. This movie was created from an oral history interview with a high school student! Her subject was Fritz Vincken, the boy in the “story,” and the one thing he remembered most about his childhood was war. Many of us—many of our neighbors—and too many the world over hold such memories or actually live in war zones today. I don’t want to forget that. I don’t want to get so caught up in shopping or party-planning that I misplace my compassion for those who are hurting. And, for me, seeing/experiencing a well-written, well-directed, well-acted movie such as Silent Night helps me hold my center; helps me appreciate the gifts I’ve been given that cannot be wrapped.
Plus, realizing that this story was developed (written/scripted) from a collection of oral histories done by high school students is exceptionally inspiring to me. Important, vital, must-be-told stories are out there waiting for the right person to write them! Is that YOU?
– ROYALENE DOYLE
It may only have been two years since our friend Royalene first posted this piece for us on Self Publishing Advisor, but I personally think it’s worth bringing back every Christmas. Why? Because storytelling is what we do, and there’s simply no more fertile ground for storytelling than the holiday season.
“Holidays bring holiday memories, and, often a sense of nostalgia for good times long gone, perhaps even loved ones long gone,” writes Wynne Parry over at LiveScience. “This bittersweet nostalgia helps us feel connected, both around the holidays and at other times. And, it can be a salve to those suffering through hard times,” says Parry, quoting psychology professor and “nostalgia expert” Krystine Batcho, of Le Moyne College in New York.
According to Batcho, “whenever there is a major change it can be very helpful to kind of keep grounded in the sense of who you are. That sense of nostalgia helps to link you to your own personal past; it helps you remember who you have been.” By that definition, nostalgia is both an important element to our scientific understanding of the human brain and consciousness, and an important element of the way we tell stories about ourselves and to each other.
My thoughts, as we progress into yet another holiday season, following a year of both fantastic “highs” and incredible “lows”–personally, as self-publishing authors, and simply as human beings on this planet–are as follows: We ought not to be afraid of nostalgia. We should use the nostalgic impulse as we use all others: that is, we should allow it to spur us on in our writing, to compel us to create new things that make the most of old things. Do the holidays–does Christmas, specifically–make you feel something? Use that as fodder for prose. Do the holidays leave you hungering after something more substantial or just something different in your own life? Use that as impetus for transformation, as a writer as in all other things.
And yes, be a rebel. If the popularity of dystopic young adult literature has taught us anything, it’s that people–our readers–are thirsty for change, to see the world move away from the sorrows and griefs and injustices that sometimes rule it. Readers are rebels, too, and they love it when they stumble across that voice which perfectly captures the carpe diem spirit of a spirit in search of positive change. Just as that German mother portrayed in Silent Night brought a small slice of peace and change to that cabin in the woods, you can do great things in this world. We’re excited to see where the holiday nostalgia leads you! ♠
||ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.