Here’s hoping you enjoyed the long Independence Day holiday weekend, Constant Reader! Here in New York, we’ve had a stretch of generally sunny days (minus a stray thunderstorm or two) in the high eighties. In my particular corner of South Brooklyn, fireworks have lit up the night sky over Coney Island after throngs of visitors have gorged themselves on Nathan’s Hot Dogs and screamed themselves hoarse on the Cyclone throughout the day. All in all, an archetypal, classic summer weekend.
I, naturally, have spent much of it writing Christmas stories.
Now, true, I’m probably not the only one. Especially in theater, the amount of rehearsal and prep time necessary to put a production together means that anybody planning a Christmas show needs to start the process now. Time was, if you were submitting a prose story to the Christmas edition of a magazine, you’d have had to so even a few months prior to this; July would already be too late. (It’s been a long while since I’ve submitted any prose writing to anything, and I don’t know how our awesome modern technology has affected publication times, so take that last item with a grain of salt.)
But no, this isn’t anything that’s already set for production, nothing that’s been accepted or commissioned. And I can’t say that I’m writing this for fun either, because I am not having any fun.
You see, An Arctic Confederate Christmas – the title of the piece I’m currently writing – is an angry bit of satire set in the future. About one hundred years in the future, to be precise, in a world ravaged by climate change where what’s left of humanity clings to a few settlements around the Arctic circle. It details one family’s Christmas Eve. (Arctic Circle – Christmas Eve – get it? Get it? Oh dear god I’m doomed.) I have been working on it in fits and starts since the start of year and have made practically no progress on the damn thing at all.
Why? For one, it’s mind-bogglingly depressing. At a certain point, with material like this, the stuff you’re discovering as you research and the things you dredge up as you draft are so unpleasant, so awful, that you find yourself turning away for the sake of your own sanity. (And seriously, folks, you could all just plant those trillion or so trees and save me from having to do this.) Also, because it’s set so far in such a cruel future, I have no frame of reference for those little things like basic human behavior, which is just a tad problematic when trying to write a play.
And so, this project, which I’d hoped to have drafted by now, will now hopefully be completed sometime this summer. Which means I have many more hazy hot weekends ahead in which I’m coming up with twisted Christmas stories (and, perhaps, not much time left to tell them before our Christmases become just as hazy and hot). I’m thinking of cranking my Christmas albums to get me in the spirit, but as a writer, I have enough funny looks from my neighbors to contend with as it is.
Posted on July 8, 2019
by Michael C. O'Day