Happy Belated Valentine’s Day! Happy Mardi Gras (yes, I know it’s actually been “Mardi Gras” for a month, but these last few days seem to be the best known)! Happy President’s Day (US)!
Did I hit them all (US)? Hope everyone had a good day yesterday, whether you shared it with someone or spent a day solo communing with your muse(s). Yesterday was the coldest Valentine’s Day in over seventy years. Boo. Hey, Winter, it’s February. Ease up on the single-digit temps, would ya?
Holidays always seem to be great muses when it comes not only to writers, but to any creative type. Think about it. How many Christmases, Halloweens, Thanksgivings, Valentine’s Days, etc have there been songs and stories written about, or stories set in? A romance set around Valentine’s Day? How about a witch spell-weaving party on Halloween? I’ve used Samhain (Halloween) in one of my own stories. What about Mardi Gras in New Orleans or Rio de Janeiro? And Christmas is a popular one for everything from estranged relatives’ I-still-can’t-stand-to-be-around-you reunions to OMG-I-haven’t-seen-you-forever reunions.
Holidays inspire, each for different reasons. Christmas because of the obvious: family, giving, and for those who resist the commercialization–a Savior’s birth. New Year’s Eve/Day because of the end of the old year and the chance to start fresh in the new year. Thanksgiving is another, again because families gather. The occasions are a great source of inspiration, from the romantic overtones of Valentine’s Day to the dark spookiness of Halloween.
How often do you use a holiday in your stories, either as a backdrop or as the focus of the story? Set a story in New Orleans the day before Ash Wednesday, and you have a great atmosphere for everything from a one-night stand to a heinous murder. Same with New Year’s Eve in New York City. Don’t restrict yourself to the big holidays or the widely-known ones, though. How much fun could you have with Oktoberfest in Munich (more than you can actually being there, trust me)? Or Independence Day (US) in Washington, D.C.?
Even local celebrations are muses, and sometimes better ones than the others. What sort of story could you tell during a Smalltown Strawberry Festival? How about a Smallertown Town and Country Days? Do you create these sorts of celebrations in your fantasy or science fiction stories? Oh, that’d be great fun! How about the Hug-an-Elf Festival in (name of small village in fantasy story here).
Listen to your own Muse, to the ideas she floats by you when the dragon dances down the street during the Chinese New Year festival, or when King Boreas is crowned during the Winter Carnival (St. Paul, MN) (yes, we celebrate winter–hey, it’s MN). Try tweaking your story to include something about the current local holiday or celebration. Research the traditions in your setting location; maybe you can incorporate them into your story.
Word count for yesterday: 25,012. Halfway through!