Sunday Fabulous

Sleeping later than the weekdays.Cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Fall colors raging rampant. An entire afternoon with nothing to do but exist and be together. Bursting organ (instrumental, not anatomical) choruses. Sunday best. Out for walks. Resting. Reading. Eating whatever whenever. Afternoon naps. No responsibilities or obligations. Sunday dinner. Ice cream. Fruit pie.

All the things that make Sunday fabulous.

A Case for Sunday Dinner

Every week, my grandma hosts Sunday lunch (dinner, not supper). All the aunts and uncles and cousins are there, and Grandma makes a pot roast or chicken, with all the fixings, plenty of them.The scent drifts down the hallway to the garage, and in the kitchen the smell mingles with hustle and bustle. Someone is always talking, there's food set out on the kitchen table ready for the dining room, and small grandchildren run about with toys in hand. The kitchen is the hub, the boys lay around in the living room, and Grandpa dozes on the couch waiting for lunch. A granddaughter bangs keys on the piano; none related, no melody. Just glee. When dinner is steaming on the long seasonal tablecloth in the dining room, grandma calls everyone in. Each sits in his or her own chair, the same for years. After Grandpa prays, dishes fly. Within twenty minutes everyone is done eating, the little ones are roaming, and the boys are asking for dessert. Grandma always has it, plenty for everyone.

It is the quintessential Sunday dinner; hubbub, food, community, generations, noise and confusion. It is tradition, Sunday Dinner—but no one is there for the food. If it was, everyone would make their own meal and stay home. It's for the experience. The togetherness, community, hubbub, and all the week's fresh talk.

Grandma changes the food week by week. If she didn't, after weeks of the same meal (even though no one really comes for the food), everyone would be sick of it. Sunday dinner isn't about the food—but it does matter.

Technically, writing isn't about the fixings—but the fixings do matter.

If Grandma had everyone over and said there was no meal prepared, the mood would turn sour fast (behind the polite "Oh-it-doesn't-matter"s. Even if something isn't actually necessary, we notice (and experience varying levels of displeasure) when it's missing.

You can write a story without creativity; it's the bare bones and basics of what happened, like a bullet point list. Or, you can write a story with all the excellence of careful craftsmanship. The details of the story won't change—but the reader's enjoyment will be far greater.

Everyone wants to read a well written story, even and balanced. The details without the colors are monotonous; the colors without the details are frivolous.

Write colors into your details, like a good Sunday Dinner. Your readers will thank you.


What colors do you write with?

A Month of Sundays

Authors are notoriously dilatory. They seem to live by months of Sundays, rather than the typical gregorian calendar month. Although it is hard to get your writing written, with dogged determination, a will of iron, and a hard deadline, it's a little easier. If you're going to make a commitment, keep it. It will earn you long term respect.

And if you realize you can't keep it (Aunt Bertha passes away, your computer falls into the Adriatic Sea, a piano falls on your head and erases the rest of your plot-line), tell whoever you're writing for as soon as it happens. Not three weeks after it was due.

Don't be a 'month of Sundays writer.' Be an, 'on time, good condition, just like I promised' writer. It'll get you a lot farther in the long run.

Sunday Writer

Everyone knows a Sunday driver—they drive slow in the slow lane, even slower in the fast lane, and count to 7 before accelerating through a red-light-turned-green. Sunday drivers are stressful for everyone, except, it would seem, the drivers themselves. They seem perfectly relaxed, unconcerned about timing and traffic. There's something to learn from them, if there's time to pause in the rush and learn it. The journey is half of the destination package; it is meant to be enjoyed, not rushed through.

It's hard not to write in a hurry. When there's a point to make—a message to get across—it's easy to fly through the introduction and the meat of the work, just to reach the conclusion; the final drive. This discredits the reader. Part of the thrill of the punchline in a long joke is the tedious description and buildup. A well written piece is effective because of the congruity and flow throughout, even if it takes time to write and read. If it's rushed or incomplete, it loses attention in some cases and respect in most.

Writing like a Sunday driver is hard. It takes careful planning, intentionality, and practice; and self-control. It's especially easy to rush ahead without regard to structure and timing, but if you can take the time to cultivate something, to write it clean and smooth, it is effective long past initial publication. It will stand the test of time and changing styles, because it stood the test of 'hurry.'

Sunday driving does make the journey better, too; if not in the process, maybe in retrospect.