You Can’t Make Writers Be Thankful
Written by Julie Butcher
So now it’s November. Most of the writers I know are in the middle of NanNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. They’re ripping out chunks of hair and typing their little fingers into nubs. The rest are still banging out scenes, trying to roast giant birds, and baking eleven kinds of pie at the same time. (Mmmm…pie)
Cold blustery weather is keeping the writer’s kids inside of the house. And they, the most reclusive, eclectic, disorganized group of people—ever, will have to venture OUT OF THE HOUSE to shop for the holidays. They are making lists people, and when a writer makes lists, trouble is on the way. Not like, I forgot to buy sugar—trouble, More like, I forgot the sugar and now the world will implode in a horrific and terrible way—trouble. Soon their little arms will flail about like Muppets on crack.
And in the midst of all this chaos, we’re still supposed to be thankful.
So, if your critique group emails you that they hate your main character so much that they want to slap his whole face, and that he should die the death of a thousand delete keys, you should probably be thankful. If it wasn’t for their precious time being spent on your manuscript, you wouldn’t get any better. It wasn’t easy for them to tell you. It certainly wasn’t a joy for you to hear. But you will write a better book now.
The day your E-book disappears off every website under Heaven it is hard to be thankful. Your income has dried up for the immediate future, and life probably sucks. But there is a bright side and maybe you should try for a little gratitude. Now you don’t need to work on promotions or updating your website or the thousand other things you do that are not writing. This is an opportunity to write a book that agents and publishers will fight over. It is, of course, unfair that your book is lumped in with the icky ones. But, you know that eventually it will be back. Use this time wisely.
When your email starts dinging like a winning slot machine, and your inbox fills with a blizzard of rejection letters, You should mostly be thankful. They read your query or submission. Someone out there in publishing land actually read your stuff. The email did go through. A real person got it. It isn’t floating aimlessly somewhere in the internets. You have an answer—and knowing is so much better than not knowing.
If you’re shopping on Amazon and you happen to see one of those authors, you know, the ones that make a zillion dollars a book, and you get to thinking how you’re two weeks shy of the electric being shut off, or how you can’t afford organic stuff for your kids, and all of a sudden you’re mad—Google that author and then be thankful he posted how very many rejections hit his inbox before he had his first publishing deal. You don’t have so many, so go you!
And when you break down and post on the interwebs how awfully hard it is to try and be a professional writer—“We hates publishing my precious, we hates it more than dwarves love gold.” –and your internet friends give you a good swift kick in the hind-quarters, know that you are blessed. They care about you. They have your professional back, so to speak. Listen to them and then moan in a private email. (Also, delete the whining post—mkay?)
Make yourself be gracious to the computer technician who pulls most of your manuscript off the dead hard drive because without him, you would have no words left—even when he charges a gerjillion dollars—be thankful. (He wasn’t the one who forgot to back-up the documents. You totally did that.)
Holidays are to stress what gasoline is to a fire. It is so very easy to lose yourself in rants against policies and people. You are the only one who can make yourself be thankful for the good things in your life. No one can force you. Like your characters, you need to take a hit and keep going.
Writers are either Plotters or Pansters. The ones who plot should look at the holidays like an outline. When we write, we have a goal, a setback, we defeat the setback, have our little victory, and then OH NO! There is another setback.
The holidays are like that. In our stories, we love the hero because he keeps going. He puts some ice on the bruises and then carries on. So plan on the setbacks. Set your goals, and like your main character, pick yourself back up by your boot straps and soldier on. Pansters, I have no freaking idea what you should do. For real, maybe you should just go to bed until January?
I would totally welcome holiday advice for the dear Pansters in the comments.
Written by Julie Butcher