Before the magical day I signed my first book contract, I lived a life on stage. But I was NOT a method actor. Method actors believe you can't truly convey emotions or experiences unless you've lived them. These are people who will - I kid you not - try cocaine if they are cast as a drug addict. I swear that is not an exaggeration. Then there are those of us who believe the whole point of acting is...wait for it...that you act. You pretend. You don't need to rush out and bungee jump from skyscrapers if you're cast as Spiderman. You don't need to hold up a bank if you're cast as a bank robber.
Then I became a writer. I promise that all the research I conducted on drug smuggling in the Caribbean for my third book was done solely on the Internet. And although I made it sound really sexy and exciting in my fourth book, I've never made out in an elevator (due to the whole phobia about the cable snapping and hurtling 20 stories to the ground. Kind of kills the libido). The fanciful twists and turns come from my head, not necessarily from real life.
Except.....I recently contracted to write a Christmas novella. And then burst into a panic that I wouldn't be feeling the Christmas spirit for another ten months, so how on earth could I do it? I demanded my husband bring up all the holiday music he'd so carefully packed away in the basement just a few weeks prior. My plan is to (although I almost never write to music) have it blasting in the background every time I sit down to write.
It didn't take me long to decide I was being irrational. Although it would be fun, for example, to (if I was fabulously wealthy) to move to Chicago for three months while I write my next book that's set there, there's no need. I don't write day scenes exclusively in the day, or night scenes exclusively at night. I don't strip down to a corset and garter belt to write love scenes. So why on earth do I have this hang up about Christmas?
Maybe because it is such a special time of year. Despite grocery stores starting with their Christmas push as early as August (noted with disgust last year as I shopped for my beach vacation!), in my house the season begins the day after Thanksgiving, and ends on New Years Day. Encapsulating it heightens the anticipation and sets it apart. Only now I have to dive into the joy and festiveness of the season while I'm knee deep in hearts and chocolate.
I may end up still playing some of those holiday cds, but I'm sure I can muddle through either way. What about you? Is there anything you feel MUST be experience before you can write about it?