Christmas in July?

Today my husband came home and asked me to guess what they were selling at Costco. You got it – Christmas decorations.

I’ve been progressing nicely with my writing, and I’ve been peeking, looking ahead, seeing where the next steps will be taken. I am conveniently at mid-summer in my novel (sadly for my characters they have been sharing my fate of a cold rainy summer), yet I am outpacing life. Soon, my characters will be experiencing fall, and then Christmas, quite possibly while it is still July for me, or at the latest August.

Nearby there is a Village du Pere Noel that opens for the summer, and I have refused to bring the children – I do not want to celebrate Christmas in July.

I have been a little concerned over this issue, as my settings play a large role in my writing, I have come to realize. My environment is one of my largest sources of inspiration, and often times just writing about my surroundings will get the ball rolling. I have come to reassure myself by deciding that temperament and emotion can be trans-located to any season, and I have lived enough winters to conjure one up even if it is not what I am experiencing at the moment.

When you write, does your physical and emotional environment play a role?

20 thoughts on “Christmas in July?

  1. When I step into my world of make believe I don’t tend to pull my physical or emotional environment in with me. I find a character (or a character finds me )and I let them bring the story to me.(Sounds pretty easy when I say it that way although we both know better) I usually don’t look too far ahead although I’ll have a vague sense of what might happen down the road.

    Then again as I consider the question further I could also add that when I write I feel my characters emotions and they are very real but.are they my emotions or my character’s? Hmmmm Although I never write about issues and feelings that I am facing in real life but on the other hand nine times out of ten I’m going to go for a rural setting(physical). So I’m going to say yes for physical and no for emotional..

    Good question— I hope the answer made sense.

    1. Yes, absolute sense, Laura! It is so interesting the way we all process! I love the way you describe being pulled into your story. I am wondering about that – am I pulled in, or is it I who initiates it – interesting thought…

      I have to say I also do not write about real issues I am facing, but the underlying turbulence definitely ends up in my writing. Not on a daily basis, of course, as being in synchronicity with my characters at all times would be boring 🙂 Sometimes, when it happens that me and my characters are on opposite ends of the spectrum, I find it difficult to come back, but that it a whole other issue…

  2. I find it very hard to write about summer in winter and winter in summer. In the novel I’m writing now the seasons play an important part because the story takes place in the course of a year in different cities; the seasons help to convey the timeline. But I’ve already hit a problem because I’ve never been in Helsinki in the winter, only in midsummer, when the weather is very strange.

    I was told that the second most common cause of death in Finland is falling over. It’s hard to imagine this in midsummer but in winter it’s dangerous just to go to the shops. I asked my friends in Helsinki to describe what it’s like in winter. “It must be very different,” I said.

    They nodded. “Yes, it is.”

    That was about all they said. Not much to go on, is it?

    I was also told that there is no heating during the summer months in order to save energy. These kind of details are very important, don’t you think?

    1. Oh yes, Joseph, they certainly are important!
      The few times I have incorporated places I have not been (i don’t think a season in a place I have not been has entered any of my work yet) I try to use it superfluously but not insincerely, be it someone there in transit, or focusing my attention on what the person is experiencing rather than the setting. Also, as for the space that particular scene will occupy, I keep it to a minimum. Does that make sense?

  3. Hmm, good question. Mostly I think I can escape the physical boundaries, but the emotional is often hard to escape. Feel bad write bad. Sometimes it’s necessary to harness the raw emotion needed in a novel, but mostly I have to be able to look beyond my own physical or emotional needs.

    1. Sharon, you respond the opposite as Laura! It is so interesting!
      Looking beyond our own limitations is part of the pleasure in writing – good way of putting it! Thanks.

  4. The weather sometimes has an effect on me when I write. Most of the time, I don’t really notice it…However, I find my writing tends to have more intensity if it’s raining outside, and less when it is calm and sunny. If I’m trying to write a particularly intense or emotional scene and it’s sunny, I close the blinds and turn on a thunderstorm track I downloaded from I-tunes. Sounds funny, but it helps me! 🙂

  5. I think it does play an important part. What I concentrate on however, is really trying to capture one moment in your mind and keeping it there. My story/novel is based on a singular, 6 hour road trip. Actually, 2 photographs from said road trip. Taking the time to slow down, and really suck in the atmosphere, mood, scenery, feeling and then have the photos to bring it all back, has really helped me in this writing project. Now, my tale doesn’t have a full year cycle like yours, but perhaps this exercise might be a good resource.

    1. Thanks, Nathan!
      I don’t use photos, but I use imagery all the time. When I find myself thinking about the fall that is approaching in my story I close my eyes, and see, smell, and feel it!

  6. I can close my eyes and conjure up the sensual details of a place/season when I’m in my writing space at home (doesn’t work in a coffee shop).

    Emotional is harder, but often I can create that with music.

    Like owlandsparrow, nature sounds can also help me escape to another place.

  7. I was reminded of my maternal grandmother, who blissfully and enthusiastically embraced Christmas in July, complete with holiday music blaring from her stereo. She was giddy with excitement and often did her shopping for the December holiday during this time.

    Of course, that wasn’t what you asked…

    The novel that I currently struggle with is set in the Midwest, while I have lived in Houston for nearly 30 years. Setting is an essential component to the book, and the farmland itself is a character, so I have to remind myself of bitter winters and summer storms that had the potential to ruin a fledgling corn crop. I visited Illinois last December and again in early July, and it does help to revisit the climate of my story.

    1. That’s so cute, Nadine! What a nice memory!

      I think writers are filled with details. Details that bring a story to life and make it seem plausible. Your story about the devastation of crops is a reminder of how meticulous one has to be.

  8. I have a burning question. I don’t know a soul in God’s green earth that buys Christmas decorations earlier than after Thanksgiving. Everyone I know complains that commercialism gets earlier each year. I’ve never been in line at Target in October to find someone buying Christmas decor. So why? Are there little people that no one sees or knows of that only come out at night that buys this stuff. Are they the ones driving the retailers desire to set up Christmas in July?

    Sorry, you touched a raw nerve. I’ll go back to my cage now.

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