• Happy Holidays Brain Dump

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in WBN News & Events     Comments 11 comments

    Last week we had a fun conversation about getting work done during your holiday travels. Now, for many of us, those travels are here. Report in, let us know how you’re doing! Don’t let yourself be stuck in what Zadie Smith in On Beauty calls “seasonal prisons”:

    “This, after all, was the month in which families began tightening and closing and sealing; from Thanksgiving to the New Year, everybody’s world contracted, day by day, into the microcosmic single festive household, each with its own rituals and obsessions, rules and dreams. You didn’t feel you could call people. They didn’t feel they could phone you. How does one cry for help from these seasonal prisons?”

    But even in family prison, a big communal meal over the holidays can make one’s problems go away, at least momentarily. As Oscar Wilde said, “After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”

    Although note that he said “after” rather than “during.” Curious!

    Over WriteByNight’s nearly eight years of existence, we’ve come to feel that many of you are like relations. Some of you started working with us in 2009 and are still with us today. That kind of loyalty is difficult to find, and we’re honored that you’ve given so much of yours to us.

    We hope you’ll continue to do so in 2017, and we’ll keep doing all we can to deserve it.

    Your Turn: How are your holiday travels going so far, as regards your writing? Or just your life! Any travel horror stories to share? Who of us has left behind an inappropriate amount of dignity at an airport in the past few days? Let us know in the comments below. Tick “Notify” for email alerts when someone replies to your comment.



    Speaking of 2017! Nearly one year ago, several dozen of you shared with us your 2016 writing resolutions (or lack of) and reading resolutions. Today seems like a good time to check in, while you still have a few days to tinker with your 2017 resolution, or to decide that hey, you don’t even need or want one.

    I for one very much did not hit the resolution I set for 2016: Read at least fifty-two books, more than half of them written by women and more than half written by minority writers and/or in translation. Three goals, three failures! I know just when and why that resolution went off the rails, too.

    Maybe that knowledge will help me avoid derailing next year. Or maybe I won’t make resolutions at all.

    Your Turn: Did you hit your writing and/or reading resolutions this year? If not, do you know why?



    The good news is that before it derailed, I read some excellent books I may not have otherwise given a chance. Magda Szabo’s The Door comes to mind. If He Hollers Let Him Go from Chester Himes is another. Maybe next week I’ll do a quick rundown of my five favorite books from 2016.

    It’s funny, in the past, when I was reviewing books regularly, someone or other would ask me at the end of every year to contribute to some sort of “Best Books of [Year]” list or another. I always hated it. Hated it. Especially the part where I had to rehash, in summary form, my already-expressed feelings about a book.

    But now that I’ve essentially stopped reviewing books, and nobody is asking me to contribute to those lists, I want to make one.

    Your Turn: What were your favorite books of the year?


    Gifts & Nonsense

    Speaking of books, here’s what Lenore Hershey, former editor at McCall’s and Ladies’ Home Journal and author of Between the Covers had to say about giving books as gifts: “Do give books — religious or otherwise — for Christmas. They’re never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal.”

    We’ve sent out dozens of books to y’all this year, some for winning contests, others just for fun/love. And we’ve got a lot left, so keep an eye out for more of the same. Some of you have books in the mail right now just for sharing with us the opening line of your book in what was among this year’s most popular posts. You can still do that! Our comments sections never close.

    Well, there’s a bunch of randomness for you. This is the kind of thing that tends to happen on blogs at the end of the year.

    But it’s been that way for centuries. As Leontes says in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, “Year’s-end web blogs, especially around Criste-Mas, are f*ckin’ bonkers.”

    Here’s another thing Shakespeare wrote: “Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast.”

    We’ve enjoyed eating with you this year.


    David LinkedFULLWriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is copy editor and fiction editor at the Texas Observer and has written for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2016 writing project that you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coaching, private instruction and writer’s block counseling services. Join our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”


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    Amber M

    No 2014 resolutions! No more resolutions ever! I always break them.

    I am en route to S.D. now for Christmas. Cross your fingers.

    Amber M

    2017, I mean. LOLL!

    Betty G.

    F-ing bonkers indeed! Thanks Write by Nite for a great
    year….. in writing help! These advice columns have been
    a invaluable part of my writing process. Better luck in 2017!


    Kinda off-topic, sorry, but here’s a writing prompt suggestion! As you gather with family and those tensions build–with parents, children, siblings, aunts and uncles, not to mention crusty old Meemaw and Pawpaw going at each other like junkyard dogs–step back from the fray and become a witness to the proceedings. Use your writer’s idetic memory–sure you have one, just focus and pay attention–and remember every snarky quip, every backbiting comment, every muttered slander. Then frame what you’ve heard as a dialogue or multi-participant harangue that tells your family’s own unique story. Of course, you can’t publish this as-is; it’s just… Read more »


    I did hit my resolution this year— publishing my first
    book! Resolutions work for me so I am
    Going to make another one next week. A second book
    in 2017!!!!$

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