Some of us have a low tolerance for chaos.

Which means that some of us have a limited tolerance for the holidays.

This is not to diminish in any way the love and delight one feels for one’s relatives—both those of blood and those drawn into our hearts by deliberate choice—but…well…I can smile only so much before the grin goes all-rigor-mortis and lasting psychic damage is done.

The holidays, for me, require more time off  just to get over the holiday experience.

Twas not always thus. For much of my life I had a childlike delight in the holidays. In many ways, I still do. Still, a disastrous long-term relationship made me  (how can I frame this in a positive way?) re-examine my self-reliance, my priorities, and the near-desperate need for outside affirmation that the holidays represent. This re-examination had repercussions I could not have imagined. And one of them has a direct impact on writing.

I now look at holidays (the upcoming ones in particular) as a welcome retreat from the world. A chance to take my brain away from here to the place the book wants it to be.

Going Full-Psycho Immersion isn’t such a bad place to be, really. I remember, a few years ago, waking in the middle of a mild Thanksgiving night and going outside. The mist was a landed cloud around me, as bright white as if it were electrically charged…and in the midst of it, an opening overhead that offered a clear view to the canopy of stars. (I swear this is true. I’m not kidding. I may be insane, but I’m not crazy.) Incidents like that one would have been reason enough to go into isolation mode. And I wasn’t even back to writing, then.

What the holidays will lack in human company, they will gift me with company-of-the-mind: a chance to get to know my characters and my story at their own pace as I work to stay in that place Critical Mass I was just posting about.

For writers, silence is a gift. It’s one that one is never tempted to take back to the store. And it’s one that we can never let ourselves take for granted.