So, last Saturday night my five year old daughter, with the help of her Nana, penned her 2012 letter to Santa. She claims to have been a good girl, and as such, she felt obliged to request a few gifts for Christmas. Among the traditional wants, she includes, in no particular order, a picture of angels, a Rock Star (Not sure if she’s old enough for energy drinks, Santa), a little sheep, and a picture of a tall ladder.
That’s right. What all little girls pine for. A picture of a tall ladder.
While this list has elements of stream of consciousness, it got me to thinking. What would a writer’s Christmas list look like?
It’s tough to generate a generic list for the writer, so many writers are at so many different stages along their journey. But, I think the welcomed gift any writer can receive is Time.
Writers need Time to write. Time away from the normal bustle of activity to seclude ourselves in our own little worlds. That’s why we write in the first place, right? I think Time can be found at a Writer’s Retreat, or even in just an afternoon. (I’m more of a morning writer, though not a morning person–go figure.)
The next thing I think any writer would welcome is Guidance. For those of us toiling without an agent or an editor, we can find that guidance from those that have gone before. Most writers would agree that Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott‘s Bird by Bird are the best of the best in terms of books on writing. I’ve found a few other books particularly useful, including Orson Scott Card‘s How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, John Gardner‘s The Art of Fiction and Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel.
An extension of the Guidance gift could be the gift of Mentoring. As a would-be novelist, any time I can spend at writers’ conferences or workshops is indispensable. The chance to network, receive feedback, pitch, learn, and vent is integral to the publishing process (if not the writing process).
To go along with some of the other gifts so far, I’d love to get me some Endurance. Now, endurance can come via a nice, warm cup o’ joe–and those are welcome in perpetuity. But it can also come via the strength to last during those long days and nights staring at our Inbox, waiting for word from that Agent, or that Editor, or that Magazine, that our story has been the one they’d been waiting for. Endurance is required to overcome those messages that herald yet another rejection.
The fourth gift on the list is Conviction. For those moments when our Time runs out, or the Guidance is lacking, and we’ve perhaps Endured as much as we felt possible, we writers need the Conviction that our stories are worth telling. We need to be so fanatically convinced that it’s deserving of an audience that we push through those darker moments of self-doubt that plague us all.
Finally, to stuff ye olde stocking, Santa, feel free to gift a Maid Service (to help with Time), a subscription to the 2013 Novel and Short Story Market (for Guidance/Mentoring), a Massage session (for Endurance, duh.) and some Literary Action Figures.
So, my 2012 Santa letter read thus:
I have been a reasonably good writer this year. For Christmas, I would like to have:
- Guidance and Mentoring
- Literary Action Figures