What does a writer really want for Christmas?

Christmas might as well be like the rest of the year, filled with books.
Christmas might as well be like the rest of the year, filled with books.

IT’S THAT TIME OF THE SEASON to make a wish list.

Maybe it’s too late.

It usually is.

We writers tend to wait until the last minute anyway.

I would say procrastinate, but I don’t use big words.

But what’s the fun of facing a deadline unless you can come sliding in with the finished manuscript just when your editor is pulling out his or her hair, your readers, if you have any, have given up hope, your friends have written you off as a lost cause, and your characters are all packed up and ready to leave for the holidays.

So what does a writer want in the stocking that’s hung above the fireplace.

Well, we don’t need a plot.

We find a new one every time we read the front page or obituary page of a newspaper.

Big city.

Small town.

It doesn’t make any difference.

The stories are everywhere you look and hoping someone finds them, and mostly we do.

We may not write them.

But we have them and pack them away.

Like fine wine, we’ll place them in the dark, and let them sit a while.

Forget the plots.

I have a closet full already.

We certainly don’t need any characters.

They’ve all been lingering in the green room of our minds for years.

The casting calls went out long ago.

The characters assembled en masse, and now all they’re waiting for is an audition.

Mostly they’re waiting for the right part.

That’s what’s so wonderful about our subconscious.

The beautiful, twenty-something, long-legged redhead I dreamed up in 1986 is still beautiful, still twenty-something, still has long legs, and there’s not a strand of gray in the red hair that drapes around her shoulders.

And the burly, soggy-faced gangster with blood on his hands and a scar on his cheek who came along in 1974 has been hanging around so long he went straight, bought a Bible, found a band of banjo and harmonica players, and became a traveling street preacher.

His chance for showing up in a novel may be even brighter than it was.

Don’t wish for an agent this Christmas.

You might as well believe in Santa Claus.

One is as real as the other.

The elves bring a sack full of switches.

Agents have a bag full of rejections.

It doesn’t matter if you wrote naughty or nice.

No use wishing for a publisher either.

You’re already sleeping with the best publishing company around.

Just look in the mirror.

And you’re staring at the CEO.

No publisher loves your book as much as you do.

No publisher will market it as hard as you will.

Want to write a sequel?

Forget the query letter.

The agent won’t answer it.

Neither will a publisher.

Just write it.

Your own self-anointed publisher has already approved it.

Personally, I guess I’ll take a Christmas tree decorated with books.

Some I’ve written.

Some you’ve written.

I read your book.

I know you.

I know your life.

And I’ll decorate the tree with a few nouns, an adjective or two, and a handful of new and used active verbs.

I’ll dangle the participles just below the star.

And I’ll scatter the prepositions like the icicles I’ve hoped for.

I’ve lost my box of adverbs.

I threw it away with the exclamation points and semi-colons.

Books and trees both look better without them.

So what do writers really need for Christmas?

The answer is simple.

Just send me a reader and a new review on Amazon.

I’m not that hard to please.

My novel, Little Lies, is all about secrets, scandal, and betrayal. It’s not a Christmas story.



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  • I love this post!!! It’s so true, too. When my husband asked what I wanted for Christmas I told him a new review would be nice. That wasn’t the answer he was looking for. So then I read him this post. He’s still confused. 😉

    • Husband is not a writer? Then he probably doesn’t get the deep hunger for reviews, reviews, and more reviews. Along with sales. And fans. And people who will tell their friends…

      Me, I’ve gone back to writing Book 2, not knowing if the hares I’ve started in this race are slow because it’s a long book, or slow because something else shiny will permanently divert their attention.

      To write a book, you have to block the sure knowledge that the next step is marketing. And to go back to writing, you have to block marketing – because it will drive you bonkers.

      • It does drive you bonkers, finding that balance between writing and marketing. Merry Christmas, Alicia.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      There is no greater gift than knowing someone cared enough about your book to read it. It can’t be bought. It’s priceless. It’s why we keep writing. Our gift is a story. Someone else’s gift is a review. We write 75,000 words and hope it moves someone else to write a 100 words. It’s a strange world in which we writers live.

      • You’re right.

        It is a little daunting to put your heart on your sleeve, to have people tell you they love your book, and then… nothing.

        I know it’s hard to write, and most people don’t do it comfortably (which is why we are such odd ducks), but writers are not asking for a BOOK back. We don’t want each of our readers to write us a book!

        The thing is, a review of a few words – even something as simple as, “I liked this book. I’m glad I read it. It made me feel.” is as good as a long, detailed review analyzing the characters’ motivation. Like voting, each review represent one individual who liked the book.

        Some are more verbal than others, but each reader is a treasure.

  • “Just send me a reader and a new review on Amazon.”

    The one thing you shouldn’t be able to buy.

    But I keep getting offers – from the bottom feeders of dreams. “Send me some money, I get you reviews.” Promises, promises – and, as usual, I’m too afraid of consequences to even try these schemes, even as I tell myself they don’t really work, and I would be found out (Murphy) at the worst possible time.

    I admit the moment of temptation is well timed: everyone who writes wants this.

    But you can’t write a novel with a core of integrity – and then not have it yourself.

    I get my little moments of bliss? revenge? by reporting the offerers to the Goodreads police. Doesn’t matter – scammers pop up again with a different name, account, and IP address faster than mushrooms after a rain.

    And I think the offers would be a lot more tempting if they were of better QUALITY. But maybe it’s best this way.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      I will review Pride’s Children, Alicia. Merry Christmas.

  • Darlene Jones

    All I want for Christmas is a sale or two or three or …

    • Caleb Pirtle

      And may the sales never end.

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