Holiday Blues (by Margie Gelbwasser)

I love the holiday season. We celebrate Chanukah, and I like playing dreidel with my seven-year-old, who's really gotten into it this year (you can never get enough pennies). We also put up Chanukah decorations on the windows, light the menorah, and eat latkes. This year, we invited my son's friend and his family (who are not Jewish) to show them how we celebrate, and it was so fun. I also love looking at all the Christmas decorations, and we check blogs and Facebook pages for the hottest light displays. This year, we visited a house in our town that set its light display to music. Another holiday favorite is the song Same Old Lang Syne. But why that song is only played alongside Christmas songs is beyond me. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this song and wish I could hear it year round.

So, all this said, there's no reason I should feel down, but December has been a hard month. Maybe it was the onset of cold weather, shorter days, the excitement but also the knowledge that there's so much to do within a small space of time. I don't know. Last week, my anxiety hit a high, depression creeped in, and I was staring at a blank computer screen (that is when I even bothered to look at OpenOffice) and chastising myself for not getting with the program and writing something.

My thinking snowballed into my career insecurities, lack of accomplishments, and all that stuff I'm sure other writers are familiar with. I talked with people, posted on a writing forum (that has the best YA writers ever) and finally realized something. IT'S OK TO TAKE A BREAK.

It's not like I haven't had this epiphany before. It's just....I never listened. Or, by the time I did, it was already days/weeks after being mad at myself for taking a break and, thus, not even enjoying the break.

The thing about writing full time is that it's all kinds of awesome. The thing about writing full time is that it's all kinds of self-induced pressure. When I worked outside the house, days off meant days off. I've tried writing full time in the past (pre-kid) and have never been good at giving myself days off. I embarked on the full time writing path again this September (first time in 7 years of really making writing a full time focus), and realized I'm doing it again. By the time I realized I needed a day off, it was too late. But that's my goal for this year. Make a schedule, write, write, write, and then give myself a day off at least once a week to do whatever. To recharge, to not feel guilty for sitting on my couch and watching old 90210 reruns.

At least I caught myself before the holiday season totally ended and am now giving myself permission to enjoy what's left of it. If you're like me, I hope you're giving yourself permission to take days off too.

Happy holidays!!


  1. Ah, I've sure been there on the needing a break. Writing can be such a hard job to "put to bed" for the night. Or for a vacation. So glad you're finding some peace to enjoy it.

  2. I remember how addictive 90210 could be (and I mean the original version, because I never got into the remake). I think that December is a tough month to get writing done because there's even more pressure to shop for gifts, visit relatives, and organize holiday celebrations, etc.

  3. I've been a full-time writer since '01 (and a pubbed full-time writer since '10). I know what you mean about pressure; I'm getting back to the JOY of writing this year...

  4. I can relate to so much of this, Margie! I find myself looking for job ads because I know I'd feel less guilty if worked full-time and wrote part-time. I think the breaks are key. You need time to fuel the muse and put things in perspective. I also love that song! I'm headed over to YouTube after I post this. Happy holidays, happy New Year!


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