Revisions and Christmas Decorating

Posted December 15th, 2009 by Candice

I don’t know what it is about editorial revisions and me. Even when they are nothing, only a few days of not-very-hard work, I slam them behind a mental door like shutting out a ten-foot tall ogre. It’s the same with decorating for Christmas–it has to be done and the house, like the book, will look so much better when I’m finished. But I slam decorating behind the same door. Maybe it’s all the up-front preparation:
Book–idea, nuture, notes, research, write (and write and write), revise for myself. Christmas–presents, wrapping, mailing, letter, cards, addressing, buying (and wrapping and mailing) . . . by the time I get to the editorial revision/decorating the house, I’m in a different mental place. I’m working on another book that needs my absolute attention. I’m finished with Christmas before the actual day arrives.

When I’m stuck in writing, I re-read favorite books or–little known secret of multi-published writer about to be revealed!–read craft books, preferably new ones. Yes, I turn to books on writing and even buy the latest issue of The Writer. Similarly when I need a nudge in the decorating direction, I go someplace inspiring, like Through the Garden Gate, a fabulous shop in Mechanicsville, Virginia, on Route 301.

I’d love to have a holiday-themed house like this–all whites and beiges and tarnished silver (the tarnished part isn’t hard to achieve). It’s so lovely–like a haunted house softened by snowfall.

While my house isn’t studied clutter like this shop, I did decide to decorate around our things this year, instead of clearing off tabletops and hutches and moving furniture as I’ve done in the past. Our house looked like Macy’s windows until I found myself with a December 31 book deadline nearly every year.

I have lots of bottle-brush trees, but keep them with my husband’s mother’s cardboard village, which is always displayed on the dining room hutch. Still, I like the idea of separating a few and displaying on a platinum-rimmed plate. Why did I pitch my silverplate teapot when it became too tarnished to deal with? Didn’t I know that heavily tarnished items would be in vogue?

What I learned from visiting this store is to change-up my decorations depending on my mood, which changes from holiday season to holiday season. This year I unearthed old photographs my husband took with his new Brownie box camera one Christmas day in the late ’40s. The little snaps are fanned on a postcard "tree" in our den, on an antique table that displays old cameras and clocks. The vignette creates a moment back in time, similar to this lovely tablescape in the store, and suits my reflective mood this season.

I put out my mother’s turkey-bone sleigh. These gold-painted "sleighs" were quite popular in the early 60s. I never liked it, but it was my mother’s and it needed to come out this year and be seen. Somehow it seems right sitting on the bottom of our tea cart, resting near my mother’s beloved Depression glass, surrounded by vintage ornaments and mercury-glass garlands.

The pink tree went up last night. Instead of shrouding the base in old lace curtains and tablecloths, I used vintage aprons. Change is good. So is revision. Time to shine up those words and polish those scenes in Iva Honeysuckle Discovers the World–Well, Her Part of Virginia, Anyway.