We Write What We Write: Or Surviving Schmaltzy Holiday Movies

By Eleanor Shelton

Originally posted January 2, 2020

It’s a new year. I’m trying to get excited about it. Just as I was trying to get into the spirit of the season, including gift-giving, house decorating, quality time with friends and family, overeating, celebrating, and planning for the year to come.

NaNoWriMo is over. Inspiration was sapped for the remainder of the year. You know how it goes. But for me, the holiday season comes with a lot of work travel and time with non-writers who look at me when I mention my passion for writing fiction as they would a platypus in a tank.

I’m a curiosity crossed with wonder.

“Why would you spend countless hours writing a book when you could be watching Breaking Bad?” 

You know you’ve watched some.

But what I’ve gotten lately is this: “They put out a lot of Hallmark movies during the holidays. You should try writing one. I hear they pay up to $30,000.”

Even Baby Yoda thinks that is whack. (Yes, TWB editor is obsessed with the BY. Deal with it.)

Huh?

“It’s not really what I write. My stuff is about murder and mayhem. I doubt the networks want something like that for a feel-good holiday story. People suck, animals suffer, and children die.”

“Oh, so your stories are more like Agatha Christie?”

“Um, no, not really.”

They pause, and reframe the suggestion, thinking maybe I misunderstood their good intentions. “So, you think you might try writing for the Hallmark Channel? Can’t be that hard.” They lower their voices and whisper conspiratorially, “You could quit your job and fly to Hollywood. It could be on TV next Christmas.”

It made me think. I write what I write. You write what you write. Because that’s what we enjoy. But maybe Hallmark would be interested in altering its successful formula.

A new New Year goal?

There might be an audience for a family who takes their beloved cat on a road trip to visit Grandma.  The cat jumps out of the car and disappears into the desert. The family goes to visit Grandma because she owns an Ayurvedic Clinic. They hope to heal their volatile marriage and cure their child, who has contracted a new strain of the bubonic plague.

The cat ends up bunking down in a barn owned by a single woman who loves being by herself. The cat finds its talent for ridding the barn of mice and rats. Thus preventing more children from catching the plague so they can go on living another year to celebrate Christmas with their loving families who thinks Pop Tarts are real breakfast food and sweatpants that say “Juicy” all over the butt are fine to wear out in public.

Too bitter? Just enough grit? Hey, the cat lives.

Hallmark might be keen on such a story. I’ll get right on that. After all, they pay $30,000.

What it’s like to write for Hallmark.

Writing for Hallmark

How to Get Published with Hallmark

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