A Profound Look Back at the Last Full Week of 2020

Excess season is upon us and will stay upon us for another week, which is great. We all need a bit of excess from time to time. The only problem with it is that with age the amount of relatively safe excess shrinks while the price you pay for it in hangovers and heartburns increases and this is the most profound message I could scrape off my holiday brain. Life is very unfair.

Girl stuff

The only person in the family who gets Christmas presents is Little C. but she gets some from three households. Her parents work per client spec as mentioned at some point or other during the year, her grandparents work based on the assumption that more is better, and my stepmother always sends presents for all three of us, so I like her best.

Anyway, when C. woke up at seven am on Christmas Day to see what Santa had brought her (she knows he doesn’t exist but I think she would really like him to exist, like me and vampires and zombies), she squealed “Look, mum, girl stuff!” Which puzzled me.

The girl stuff in question was a pink “powderbox” that housed a water tampon for the sticker tattoos that went with it. That was from her grandparents along with a book about dinosaurs and a Christmas tree ornament plus a lot of other stuff. Her squeal made me wonder — as every perfect parent should, of course — if we’re pressuring her into being someone and something she doesn’t really want to be instead of letting her enjoy “girl stuff”.

Our presents were a Newton’s cradle and an Assassin’s Creed shirt. C. had been asking for a Newton’s cradle for months, which gave us a hint she might like it as a Christmas present. She is also very much into Assassin’s Creed, watching her father play and then trying her own hand at Ezio’s adventures.

I will admit she mentioned a Barbie doll, which I just remembered yesterday. That happened after the birthday party of her friend V. last December — that’s December 2019 — who got a Barbie-like doll from her grandma. Excuse me if I don’t write every gift wish down. So I think we’ll stick with the things she talks about the most (rocks, videogames, more rocks and what the world is made of and how it works) and leave the girl stuff to grandma.

That may well be what grandmas are for. I distinctly remember her once trying to teach C. manners with the all-time favourite “Girls shouldn’t act like that.” Us? We’re letting the peer market take care of her manners after I developed chronic cramps in my jaw from repeating myself. If you pick your nose or burp loudly at people they won’t like you and being liked is the ultimate currency of youth. Cunning, I know.

The ultimate Christmas movie

I guess everyone who lives in a culture that involves Christmas has one. Some are evergreens that are always on TV around Christmas, such as Home Alone down here, and others are personal favourites such as Love Actually. I’ve watched my fair share of Home Alone and I’ve seen Love Actually once with no plans for a re-watch because our family’s Christmas movie — and the ultimate Christmas movie as far as I’m concerned — is Die Hard. Also Die Hard 2, which even has snow.

I know we’re not an outlier here, at least, and I was amused to learn there is an ongoing debate on whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie at all. I even saw someone on Twitter proudly proclaiming he has never watched it and couldn’t care less about its Christmas movie status the way a while ago people proudly proclaimed they did not watch Game of Thrones without anyone asking them.

Since this is my own blog I can write whatever I want so I will weigh in on the debate without anyone asking me. Of course Die Hard is a Christmas movie. The events take place on Christmas Eve, there is a Christmas party and there are, in a way, presents, that is, almost everyone but the bad guys survives the action. Pity about Mr. Takagi. It has an upbeat message of “Don’t give up, even in the face of impossible odds, just find a machine gun” and it has a happy ending with a moral: the bad journalist loses two teeth to Mrs. McClane because he was being very, very unethical. I’ve no idea what more could anyone want from a Christmas movie.

The newsletter mystery

After being punched in the face with a few publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts only with a marketing plan I decided to do some quick research on what this marketing plan might entail. Besides discovering that an actual marketing plan requires some form of marketing education, I found author newsletters seem to be a thing. And I wondered why. That was a few months ago and I’m still wondering.

I tried to imagine receiving a newsletter from Stephen King, for example. I really like his (older) books and I’ve read them numerous times but would I like to receive news from him? This led to another question: what sort of news could writers share with their fans besides things like free giveaways and buy-a-book-get-a-free-autograph?

The obvious answer was an update on what they’re working at the moment but how regularly can you update your readers on your work in progress without divulging the whole work in progress? Besides writing updates, do readers want to know about your everyday life? Would they look kindly on updates such as “Stubbed my toe on a chair leg” or “Got into an argument on Twitter, some troll called me stupid”? For now, the mystery remains a mystery but I hope I unravel it next year unless I forget or don’t have the time. Also, I wouldn’t want to receive news from Stephen King or any other writer whose work I enjoy but this is no way indicative of other people’s preferences. it doesn’t help that I’m aware of this.

Speaking of marketing, here’s my latest book, Sky High. It’s free on Kobo and $0.99 on Amazon because Amazon does not do permanently free books. If you should feel so inclined, give it a read and leave a review. In the end, it’s what readers think about a book that matters.

Profound video of the week

Embrace the challenges life (or owners) put in your way and keep fighting.

P.S. I solved the problem by putting the two volumes of my English-Bulgarian dictionary on top of the cardboard.

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