I've been a little lax in blogging here of late. I think it's because my beloved My space page got all changed when My space decided to get cool. Now I hate my my space...and I've been pouting.
Here's a plot for a book or a movie: A group of people, none of whom like each other, forced together for long hours in wintry weather. They must eat food that very likely will kill them, and they must pretend to be happy about it or a war will break out. Bubbling just below the surface of this fiction is an undercurrent of loathing, mistrust, and disapproval. Fueled by long buried injuries and often alcohol, the war breaks out, generally over some perceived slight, and violence ensues.
A brilliant fiction plot...or the start of the holiday season?
We have reached that time of year between Thanksgiving and New Years when every family of every creed force themselves to spend close quality time together under stressful, and often hilarious conditions.
I have to speak of Christmas because, well, I'm Christian and that's what I celebrate this time of year. But if you're of a different faith or culture, feel free to insert your celebration here. Doesn't matter what you're celebrating, the storyline remains the same.
It starts with Thanksgiving. A national day of thanks for the amazing gifts we as Americans have. And the list is always longer than we think, even in these troubled financial times. So we get together with family, because, after all, FAMILY is the first blessing, right?
Not if you watch closely at the grocery store the night before Thanksgiving or the day of. (Seriously, what did our grandparents do before 24 hour grocery stores and cell phones?) The drama that is shopping for a meal to signify our national day of thanks is surely something that could be, should be plotted and written into a best seller.
First of all the food is ridiculous and no one eats this way any other day of the year. turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and potatoes. Green bean casserole, and sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. This is the traditional meal of thanks. According to some stat I heard yesterday, 91% of ALL Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving.
91% of everyone in this country are stuck eating a bird that is either over cooked or under cooked with side dishes that, if that don't make you vomit (I cannot abide sweet potatoes with or without marshmallows and my husband will not touch any sort of cranberry sauce.) they might kill you with a fat and calorie count high enough to match the national debt.
Turkey is not a meat source most people like. Oh sure, if you're trying to lose weight, you replace delicious ground beef with ground turkey and say, "Oh yum, tastes like beef." 91% of Americans cook turkeys not because they like Turkey but because they want to have the BEST THANKSGIVING EVER. so we cook food we never ever cook, and the odds of it turning out are slim or none. Which ruins thanksgiving.
Then there's family. We invite family to the meal we can't cook and no one really wants to eat because, well, it's family and we want it to be the BEST THANKSGIVING EVER. So we invite a houseful of people we don't actually like. Tension runs high because everyone is trying to be polite...and let's face it, humans can only be polite for so long.
I have three Thanksgivings in my memory banks as my favorites. One when I was pregnant with my youngest and did not make the trek two hours away for the family meal. I was alone. I made dinner of my choosing, watched some movies and some football and had a wonderful day. Then there was the year my little family traveled to South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore on Thanksgiving day. We had pizza at a small family run place, met some fantastic people and had a wonderful day. And then there was this year. My husband cooked pork. My brother came over with his two youngest. We ate a wonderful meal in front of football, the kids played with the cats, and no one wore dress clothes. Zero stress.
But thanksgiving is just the kickoff to five weeks of misery and mayhem. We spend tons of money on decorations and gifts so that we have the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER. Enter more relatives. More stress. more cooking of unfamiliar recipes. More disappointment, disapproval, and despair. they say Christmas is a time when more people commit suicide than ever. I submit that stat may be because daughters in law can't get their mothers in law's recipes for some archaic cookie right and all is lost.
What is my point, as a writer? Simple. Where there is tension, drama, failure, and heartbreak there is a story. Writers, look upon your holiday celebrations this year with a notebook in one hand and a pen in the other. Watch and listen as a writer would, not as a wounded daughter whose mother has just re cleaned your bathroom...because it wasn't "quite right."
you may find plot gold right there in your own holiday horror story!
On a side note, I saw two movies this week and finished reading a book. I saw the newest Harry Potter installment. (the book is better, but more on that another day) and I saw "The next Three Days" with Russell Crowe. A taught, tight, edge of your seat thriller, a definite gem you should check out.
Then today I finished reading Rick Springfield's book "Late Late at night." I can tell you two things about this book 1) he definitely didn't gloss over any of his "warts" and it's a brutal picture he paints about his life and his battle with depression and other issues. 2) It's a very good read, but the language is so harsh, don't leave it out on the coffee table for the young ones. As an author, I appreciate the unblinking honesty. As a fan, I think the curtain is torn down. For me, it's a bit hard to admit that my hero has feet of clay. Then again' ...I think i may have always known that. After all...Jesse Alexander, the hero in my book "Dream in Color, " is hardly the Boy Scout you'd want to bring home for a family dinner.
Especially during the holidays.