TEN THINGS WRITERS SHOULD BE THANKFUL FOR
As Thanksgiving draws near in the U.S., we all know how difficult it is to stop for a breath and put down the pumpkin pie. But it’s important that we do so, and not just because turkey gravy is starting to ooze from your pores. It’s important to step back this time of year and remember what you’re thankful for.
Writers as a group have many things to be thankful for. Here are ten. Why ten? Because I easily succumb to the peer pressure stemming from the established tradition of presenting lists in groups of ten. I blame Dave Letterman. Perhaps unfairly, I also blame him for this weird trend of people wearing pajama pants everywhere.
Anyway, here’s my list of ten things, in no particular order, writers should be thankful for.
- TIME. Writers have lots of it. I know, there are deadlines and whatnot, but fundamentally, there’s no rush to finish a story. To get my kids to read more, rather than watch so much TV, I remind them the great thing about books is you don’t miss anything if you have to stop and walk away for a while. The action waits for you to come back. TV doesn’t. (Yes, yes, I know. DVR’s do that. Seriously, shut up! I’m trying to win an argument with a seven and a three-year-old. Shush!) Take all the time you need to tell your story. If it’s not working right now, those characters will wait for you.
- SUPPORT. Yes, getting traditionally published may be harder than ever. There’s lots of competition. Still, whether you go the peril-frought road of traditional publishing or brave the lonely road of indie-publishing (which isn’t all that “indie” if you do it right), there are countless people out there supporting you. Friends, family, agents, booksellers, publishers, editors, designers. Even other authors – real, professional authors don’t see the writing craft as a competition. They get that there is always a market for more stories. They want to read what you wrote as much as they want to have their own stuff read by others and are willing to share their time and expertise to make that happen.
- DUH, YOU’RE WRITING! Whether writing is your day job or something you do in your spare time, storytelling is an amazing way to get to make a buck. Admit it.
- E-READERS. Fear for the demise of the print book if you wish, but e-readers, I think, have helped book sales. If nothing else, the ease and relatively low expense of e-publishing means more writers are getting into publishing. That means more stories and more attention. More sales for everyone.
- BOOKSTORES. Yes, they’re struggling. Maybe people are buying more and more from e-readers and online booksellers, but the bookstore is still the most visible, tangible outlet for books. Plus, it’s a hell of a lot of fun, as a writer, to walk into your local bookstore and see your book on the shelf, isn’t it?
- A GOOD PEN. Anymore, getting a story edited and submitted requires a computer. But writing a story is another matter. To write a story, you can get by without all that stuff. You really just need a trusty pen of your choice and a quiet place to write.
- FREEDOM. You can write any damn thing you want. Someone, somewhere, will want to read it. The Internet and social media make it easier than ever – also cheaper – to find that someone.
- TURKEY DRUMSTICKS. I’m sort of being facetious here. But only a little, ’cause, you know, yeah TURKEY DRUMSTICKS! Yum! The point is writers today understand ours is a pretty sedentary profession. We get that the old model of being an author – drink all day, smoke like chimney, blow your head off at 45 – doesn’t really work anymore. We kicked the cigarettes, cut down on the fat and get out in the sunlight once in a while. Our drinking we reserve for the evenings, preferably on someone else’s tab.
- FRIENDS AND FAMILY. This is something obviously everyone should be thankful for, but since writers live in their own heads much of the time, friends and family are even more important to draw us out into the world of the living now and then – while also being aware enough to let us go back inside ourselves when duty calls.
- READERS. You guys! If no one reads our stuff, we’re just doodling, giggling to ourselves in a lonely corner, journaling about things that never actually happened to us (unless it’s a memoir). Be thankful for your readers. Say thanks when one of them compliments you. Suck it up even if it’s the forty-third time you’ve been asked what the inspiration for your series of algae detective novels was. Without those questioning readers, we’d have to get real jobs.
Happy holiday season!