What does a writer really want for Christmas?

Christmas tree of books presented by novelist Mike Clifton and made by his students of Chappell Hill.
Christmas tree of books presented by novelist Mike Clifton and made by his students at Chappell Hill.

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.

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  • Caleb Pirtle

    That’s what’s so great with new readers and reviews under the tree. You don’t even have to gift wrap them.

    • This is exactly what writers want for Christmas! May you have hundreds, no thousands more in your stocking this year!

  • Roger Summers

    You can make book on this.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      I’m still looking for a bookie who’ll give me odds.

  • I humbly agree. More readers and a review or two always fill my heart with such glee. I love to say that life cured me of my pride, but the truth is, when it comes to writing I find great pleasure in hearing how people enjoyed my story. I sit back in my chair with a stupid grin on my face and somehow I’m inspired to write more. Now I know writing and the trigger to write should come from within, from that well that never dries, but it is dishonest of me not to admit that compliments and an increase in readership injects some pretty powerful motivation straight into my heart muscle.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Woelf: Thank God for readers, reviews, and stupid grins. We need more of them.

  • Don Newbury

    Stupid grins come easily. I have a box of ’em, reaching for the “stupids” most of all. A while back, Brenda and I missed studio visit at Huckabee show in NYC. Chanced to see him leaving building, though. We exchanged “hello’s,” and I handed him a business card. Asked him for his. He answered, “I don’t have one. Maybe I should get some.” I felt stupid. He never put down his guitar case, and headed toward a waiting car….

    • Caleb Pirtle

      You should have asked Huckabee for his vote, and he would still be trying to figure out who you are and why it’s important.

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