A Writer’s Wish List

Misty MasseyMisty Massey
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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?

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19 comments to A Writer’s Wish List

  • This is just one. My list was too long, so I put the rest on my blog. You can head there if you want. ;)

    More time: Especially right now. Making Christmas every year takes up most of my time and waning energy from November to mid to late January. They say handmade gifts are always better, but I’d love to be able to actually supplement with bought gifts every once in a while. And beyond “making Christmas, making Christmas, making Criiiistmas” (yeah, that goes through my head the whole three months) and the writing, there’s the housework that’s piling up even more than usual, along with making dinner and helping our daughter with her homework (which is a whole other level of frustration), I feel like Prince Humperdink…I’m swamped. Maybe some sort of time dilation device so I could get everything done I need to every day and still be able to get all my writing in. Or maybe some form of cloning ability that lasts for 24 hours at a time and I experience what the other did when I meld back together. Or maybe just a LOT more energy, because without that, both other methods are a bust. Unless the cloning doesn’t convey the exhaustion, only the important experiences.

  • Ken

    Misty, I SO did that too! I can remember sitting at the kitchen table with a pen and the catalog circling and making exclamation marks (I coudn’t draw a decent star to save my life back then) saying to myself “YES! That would be so cool…and so would that…and that”.

    Now for the list:

    1. I’d like a bit more willpower. I found the writing time, but it’s gods-awful-fates-where-is-the-coffee-early in the morning. There are some days, especially with winter coming on, where the blankets feel lined with lead and I just know that Jack Frost is waiting somewhere in the bleary dark to lay his frigid fingers on me and if I wait just 5 more minutes, he’ll get bored and wander off and I can get up and wr-zzzzz…

    2. I’d like some of the confidence that’s on Misty’s list. It’s hard to be the only one awake in the house (even the dogs have fallen back to sleep after I’ve quit bumbling around) in the wee hours of the morning wondering if what I’m working on is any good, wondering if I’m wasting my time, or if I’m ever going to publish, etc.

    3. I’d like to go to a con this coming year. I’ve never been to one and there are so many to choose from. Any suggestions ;)

    4. I’d like a place where I can go to talk with other writers (both amateur and professional alike) where we can talk about the craft as friends in a pleasant, friendly, and encouraging atmosphere…oh wait. I’ve already got that :) Instead, I’d like a bit of success to go out to all of you, my friends, in the coming year *Circles and exclamation marks that one*

  • Megan B.

    More time to write, yes! I work two part time jobs, but the shortage of writing time is partly my own fault too. I find it difficult to write if I’m not alone in the house. Need to get over that. Also need my hubby to understand that an open laptop is a metaphorical closed door.

    I’ll take some of that confidence, if there’s enough to go around.

    And I’d like a certain publication to finally say yes to one of my submissions :)

  • First off, Misty, hugs on the confidence issue. I *so* understand what you’re saying there — and yet I firmly believe that they only thing we can do it fake it till the “Fraud Factor Fear” doesn’t matter anymore… (and we get that next contract…)

    As for holiday wishes: I have a number of books that I want, especially later books in series where I’ve loved the first. I tend not to buy later books, because there are so many new things to read, but…

    And (this is spilling over into New Year’s Resolutions type thinking), I’d like to change some habits. Bad habits about time-wasting. And about running myself down, in my head. And about eating too much of the wrong things.

    And, finally – I’d like to (continue to) build communities of writers and other creators, to share the energy of Making Stuff. This wish might come true if I start participating in a friend’s weekly Craft Night at her house…

    And I’d circle and star Magical Words — participating in this community has been high on my wish list for 2012!

  • Ken – Come to ConCarolinas at the end of May! Mud and I will be hosting the MW party again. ;)

    1) Time, definitely. Especially as I’ve found I’m the most productive when I have large blocks of time. I just need to shut off my helpful side and let myself put me first. Which is nothing if not a challenge. I hear you on the work time, Misty! I carpool with my husband and he works longer hours than I do. Factor in his commute to/from his own job before and after work, and I have extra time that usually doesn’t translate to writing time, for one reason or another.

    2) Health. I would like to be healthier and stronger. Part of this probably means taking better care of myself. Time sometimes comes into conflict with Health. Part of this is praying to the Universe that I can be healthier in general. I think the first part is the biggest challenge, but the best solution. :s

    3) Add me onto the confidence list. I have three requests I need to submit on and I’m still revising… though Time and Health remain big issues. (Hello, NaNo, post-NaNo cold, etc.) I know, let’s pool our collective desire for confidence and *make* ourselves more confident by encouraging each other! i.e. You can do it, Misty! :D

    4) Quiet. My life is so busy. Love my dayjob, thankfully, but in the non-dayjob hours, all the things going on all the time leads to an overwhelmed Laura. Funny, though, it occurs to me that I could deal with this by making the time for myself for Quiet—first, by going to the gym regularly (equals time alone with my thoughts as I work out) and second, by carving out moments of peace and shutting the Internet down. Like, now.

  • Misty, I hope that you get everything on your list. In fact, I wish that for all those who have commented, too. My list? More focus, more time, more confidence. But most of all, I think I need a healthy dose of perspective, of understanding how good I’ve got it. I’m not satisfied with where I am in my career, and that sort of ambition is good. But I need to get better at accepting the gifts that writing has given me and understanding that not having all my dreams come true is different from not living a dream. And when it comes right down to it, I am living a dream.

  • Beatriz

    Dear Santa–

    I’ve been a good girl this year. I’d really love:

    ******** A job near my Beloved so that I can be with him. ***** That’s the one I want most. I promise to do all I can to help support his writing dreams. I swear!

    If you don’t mind, Santa, here’s a few more things I hope for:

    2) That my best girlfriend has the same confidence in herself that those of us who love her have in her. (I’ll take awkwardly constructed sentences for a thousand, Alex!)

    3) Health, happiness and success for my family-by-choice and my friends.

    Thanks, Santa!

  • I thought I posted, but apparently not.

    1. An agent. We’ve had some requests, now we just need a yes. I’ll take this in lieu of a pony. Sometimes, they both feel about as likely.

    2. More time to write (which seems like cheating, a bit, since I will get that next semester with a lighter course load).

    3. More will power to write. I’m tired, yeah, I’m busy, yeah, but I just need to write more. Lots more. It looks like I will get time to work on stuff for a couple weeks–editing and writing–and that’s good, but I really need to up my motivation.

    4. More time and effort into reading. I need to be reading more than I am now.

    Misty> Have confidence! The book we talked about at DragonCon, the weird western, sounds so cool! I’m sure you will produce a great book!

  • Nathan Elberg

    You can’t put the people who are depending on you to write in the same category as the ones depending on you to provide. You have to let the voice of the latter gloss over, or even drown out the voice of the former, even though the former’s demand is probably more fun.
    Look at the “day job reversals and home repairs that you can’t afford and relatives with failing health and personal disappointments” as sources of drama to inspire you, even if your writings are set in a medieval fiefdom or a far away galaxy. A person who lives a real life is better placed to write about life.

  • Yep. Misty you deserve all the confidence you want and more. You are an awsome writer. SO finish that damn book! :)

    As for me, I gave myself an early Christmas gift. When I agreed to a book every 6 months, it was with the expectation of getting personal health insurance and quitting my lab job. But even with ObamaCare, that looks problematic. Frankly, I just don’t trust the economy. So I am keeping the lab job, with all its wnderful insurance benefits until retirement at 65. With that decision made, I had to look at my own health and the stress levels I was facing. And I knew I had to cut back. I requested to write a book every 9 months and the PTB are chatting between themselves about that now. I am hopeful that my life will be less stressful. That is my gift to myself — more rivers, less stress. :)

  • My list is similar to many of those already posted.

    I almost said “time” first, because I know my teaching schedule next semester is crazy so time will be hard to find, but in all honesty I had a really light schedule in the fall and mostly wasted all that free time I had.

    So instead of time I’m asking for focus. This should help my writing in a couple of ways. The first is to keep my focus on writing and not get distracted by things that really shouldn’t distract me (I’m not talking about major health problems or family issues, just day-to-day stuff). The second is the need to focus on what I currently have planned for my WIP and not spend so much time chasing after shiny new “what ifs.”

    I’d also like some of that confidence–hope Santa has LOTS of that in his bag this year!

    And finally, I’d love to come to ConCarolinas (or some other con if that doesn’t work out). I love reading this blog and the responses, but I think it’s time for me to take the next step and actually talk to people in person :)

    (I asked for three things because when I was a kid, we could only ask Santa for 3 things. Oh, the agony of having to trim down my first draft of a list!)

    Good luck to us all!

  • sagablessed

    What do I want for Yule?

    *****I would like a place to live close to my work and my oncologist, where I can finally have my dog with me.*****

    I would like a cure for HIV so my infected friends can live more normal lives.
    I want a car that won’t suck the life blood out of me. (Working on that one. Who knows, maybe I can get to ConCarolinas next year.)
    I would like, same as you, for my ideas to coalesce into a cohesive whole.
    I would like a contract with possible TV deal for my book when it is finished. (Yeah, its out there, but you asked. :)
    I want more time with my friends without sacrificing work and pay.

  • quillet

    I’d ask for more time, except I know that’s not the real problem. *hangs head guiltily* I’d like more self-discipline. Lots more. Lots and lots and lots…

  • And since I think we can all do with extra laughter, this time of year and always, here are 25 Gifts For Writers. You’re welcome.

  • Dear Santa,
    I want my novel-length stories to behave and let me write them down ~before~ they tell me all the places they want to change.
    I want my novel-length characters to quit talking to the characters in the ~other~ novels while I’m trying to sleep.
    I want my friends to have the energy, time, quiet, discipline, inspiration and success they so richly deserve.
    I want the energy to get up and bake another batch of capuccino cookies…

  • I’d like to be out of the hospital in time to have Christmas. (I realize that typing this makes me sound like a Dickensian child, the kind with golden curls and consumption. Sorry about that.) I’d really like an agent. I’d like time to get the newest WIP half done before next semester.

    One present I got already – a Vampet! She’s adorable. She’s also a good litmus test for nurses and visitors. The ones who squee or warn me not to let her bite me in my sleep when they see her are on my wave length. Others look sideways at Emily as if they aren’t sure someone who gives vampire bat baby plushies as presents should be allowed around sick people.

  • So we can call you Tiny Sarah from now on? *grin* I hope you’re back on your feet, literally, in time for Christmas, too. Keep doing what they tell you so you can get better. (and Vamplets are awesome – I gave my nieces Vamplets for Christmas last year, making me the coolest aunt ever.)

    Dear Santa, I would like Lyn to make lots more of those cookies. :D

  • Razziecat

    Is it that time of year again? ;)

    -I’d like for my sister to find a decent-paying full time job, so she can stop worrying.
    -I’d like more time to write!! I am NOT a morning person, and by the time I get home from work, have dinner and fire up the computer, it’s 7 PM or later. Doesn’t leave a lot of time to write before I have to go to bed.
    -I’d love more energy, and the ability to focus more intensely on what I’m trying to write. Distractions, distractions… :)

    Hoping everybody gets what they most want!

  • TwilightHero

    I’d like a lot of things for Christmas, including certain worries about the future working out smoothly, and health and happiness to all my family (and I’ve got a big one – thanks Santa!).

    I too also want more confidence and self-discipline, and it’s important to be remember I can give myself both of these things: the confidence by getting more done writing-wise – which depends on the self-discipline – and the self-discipline by avoiding distractions when I should be writing. Turning off the internet – now.

    And I’m using the Neil Gaiman quote about elves as my wallpaper. Thanks Misty :)