ACW

ACW

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Boxing Day

by Fiona Veitch Smith

So now that it’s over, how do you feel? Exhausted? Elated? Relieved? The family and friends have gone (if you had any visiting) and it’s just you, your nearest and what’s left of the turkey. Or perhaps it’s just you – and that’s all it ever was.
For some people I’m aware that Christmas is just like any other day of the year, just a bit lonelier. If that’s you I would like you to think of another day – a day after something exciting, that you’d waited for and prepared for a long time – and transpose that day for Boxing Day. Because that’s what I’m really talking about – the day after. The week after. The months after. The years after …

In my writing life I’ve had some mountains and many, many valleys. And as most of you know, the valleys are the worst. I know some of you still have to reach your mountaintop of being published, broadcast or produced, but you too know what it’s like to achieve a writing goal: your writing being complimented by someone you admire, finishing that novel or play, being short-listed for that competition, winning that competition … or getting taken on by that agent. Finally you’re there, or at least nearly there, surely it won’t be long now… But then, before you know it, it’s over. It’s Boxing Day.

The other day I walked past a theatre where my ‘breakthrough play’ – a play that won a prestigious competition – was staged. I remembered seeing the poster of the play on the billboard and was expecting in the coming years to see more. That was six years ago now and the breakthrough play was the last to be ever commissioned. Instead I have a file-load of rejections and no one, other than me and a few close friends, remember that my play even existed for one blissful week and a further week of fabulous reviews …

I’m currently on a mountaintop with my novel The Jazz Files. I’ve had some stunning reviews and people seem to love it. But perhaps one day it will be Boxing Day for this novel too. Because I’ve been through this so many times I know I need to prepare myself for it and shift my perspective. On the first ‘Boxing Day' – the day after Jesus was born – Mary and Joseph would have been preparing for their life ahead with their new little boy. They didn’t look back; they looked forward; they embraced each new day - with its joy and pain - as it came.

And that’s what I intend to do this Boxing Day; with my family and my writing. The highs and lows are both part of my life. I cannot live from mountaintop to mountaintop. I need to embrace the valleys too. Sometimes I manage and sometimes I don’t. But I know that in it all God is with me – before, during and after. Happy Boxing Day.

Fiona Veitch Smith is a writer and writing lecturer, based in Newcastle upon Tyne. She writes across all media, for children and adults. Her formerly self-published children’s books The Young David Series, are now available from SPCK. Her mystery novel The Jazz Files, the first in the Poppy Denby Investigates Series is published by Lion Fiction http://fiona.veitchsmith.com www.poppydenby.com

10 comments:

  1. What you're saying very much reflects the journey I, and most other writers I know, undertake. At one time, I'd never even had an article published, and I thought success meant having one in a newspaper. A hundred or so articles later, I thought it would be having written a whole book. Having written and self-published a whole book, I now think ....... You know the rest of the story!

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    1. Don't give up Fran. Look at how far you've come. And as you know I think you are a wonderful writer.

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  2. Very good points here, great use of Boxing Day. One thing to add:sometimes Boxing Day can be enjoyed as that marvellous moment after the huge effort of ... doing Christmas/writing and getting the book published/giving birth/moving house/etc, when there is time to 'be' and just go for a walk without that awful 'get on with the agenda' feeling. (After which, yes, moving on can happen!)

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    1. So true Mari. And Boxing Day (St Stephens Day) us just the first day of Epiphany. I used Boxing Day as a metaphor - but when the deflated Boxing Day feeling kicks in us different for everyone. I'm still enjoying it. Very good point you make that we need to just 'be' before rushing on to the next thing.

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  3. Spot on, Fiona. Well said. And sometimes, it's not just about the rejection slips. Sometimes, as I discovered only last week when sorting through some boxes of letters, it's having a publisher wanting to take you further and knowing that the Lord is telling you to make that ultimate sacrifice and deviate from the direct route to Jerusalem in order to be the means of God's grace to the equivalent of a woman at the well. God bless you (and Fran and Amy above) in what you are doing.

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    1. That happened to me too Mel. The Peace Garden was accepted by a mainstream publisher 3 days after I'd given birth to Megan - subject to a re-write. But with a new baby I was unable to do the rewrite. When I did, a year later, the offer was no longer on the table. But I know I made the right decision to prioritise my family at that time.

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  4. Lots to think about here. It's funny how what seemed like a mountain sometimes turns out to be a hill. All good training for the next step, though.

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