When I was little, I used to love getting the Sears catalog in the mail at this time of year. Once Mama had her turn looking through it, I was allowed to go through and mark the toys I wanted for Christmas. I would lay on the floor with the catalog and a pen, and carefully study each page until I’d made my decisions, then circle the items I wanted. I marked the toys I wanted most of all with a star, just so Santa would know. As soon as I was sure what I wanted, I’d hand the catalog back to my mother, and hope.
These days Sears doesn’t send catalogs, and making a list with pen and paper has been supplanted by the Amazon wishlist and the little widget you can use to add things from other sites to that list. You can even mark which items are most important to you by marking them as “highest” priority. Even so, the things writers want for Christmas aren’t necessarily available on Amazon, or any other website. I guess we’re going to have to ask Santa and trust that we’ll get what we want most.
First, I want more time to write. I only work part-time, but it takes an hour in the morning to get ready, about 40 minutes drive time there and back again, so my four hours a day is more like six. When I get home, I have to make dinner, and then there’s laundry and housekeeping and the occasional errands out of the house. So I want to get my schedule more nailed down, to allow myself more uninterrupted time to get words on the pages. Maybe it’ll take staying up a little later at night, or getting up a little earlier in the morning. More time…that would be a great gift.
Next, I’d like the eleven million ideas in my head to settle down and coalesce just a little. Ask any writer, and she’ll tell you that ideas aren’t the problem. It’s figuring out all the details in order to tell a whole story with them. I’ve been learning how to outline, and I’d like to get better at it. A bit of a map to go along with the ideas, that’s what I want.
I wouldn’t mind a new agent. I parted ways with my first agent several months ago, and I haven’t yet hired new representation. Not that I’ve been turned down, you understand. I haven’t submitted anything. I even have a good chance of snagging an awesome agent, but I have to get the book finished. Or maybe just finished enough. Which leads me to the gift I want most, the one that’s not just circled but starred.
I’d love an extra dose of confidence. I know it seems like getting a book published is the pinnacle, but it’s really not. It’s only the first step up the hill. You have to keep writing, and submitting. In between writing for a publisher you ought to be working on short stories or articles, to keep your name in front of people. If you have day job reversals and home repairs that you can’t afford and relatives with failing health and personal disappointments, the drive to write quickly gets shouted down by the voices in your head telling you to just stop with all this nonsense and work a job for a regular paycheck because people are depending on you to provide. It’s an insidious voice because it conveniently glosses over the part about how people are depending on you to write, too. I’d like some metaphorical earmuffs to drown out the voice, and the energy, courage and belief in myself to complete the things I’ve promised I would.
So there’s my list. I’m not asking Santa, and I’m not putting it on Amazon for anyone to get for me. This list is what I’m giving myself, for Christmas and the whole year through. What’s on yours?