How are things at the North Pole? I hope you and your Kringle S.O. in the red leggings and faux-fur lined cap are both well and ready for the imminent last-minute rush. Rudolph and all your other four-leggeds are healthy and rested? I’m sure the elves have been putting in loads of overtime. Please give them my love and remind them to schedule some down-time into their long workdays.
I know a pro like you gets a ton of mail and your schedule this close to the Winter Holiday is bonkers, so I’ll skip the rest of the pleasantries and get right to the point. Here’s my wish list for 2019.
1. More time to write. I know we haven’t spoken in a while, Kris, but let me tell you—it seems like life has me constantly on the run. I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that by the time I can sit down in front of my computer to “pen” new worlds, my brain is mush. Maybe you could help me learn to clone myself? That way I could send one Drema to the grocer’s, one to work at the law office, and another to play with the kittens while I, the original, could finally write in relative peace.
2. A viable niche and eager agent/publisher for my “science-fantasy” fiction trilogy. That first book is as ready as I could make it on my own. I’ve handed it off to a mentor, as you suggested, so once I get her input I can start the next round of revisions. Meanwhile, if you have any ideas on who might be my ideal agent, send them my way.
3. A better understanding of the vast universe that is the short fiction market. I took your advice and signed up for Duotrope and Submission Grinder. Trackers help, it’s true, but I still can’t keep up with all the magazines out there accepting short fiction. Every time I finish a story, I start the search. I know my fellow writers probably say the same thing in their letters to you. It’s part of the writing life that I accept, but if I could just plug my neural implants into your database and download all there is to know about querying and submitting to online and print zines, it would sure speed things up for me. Think about it, won’t you?
4. Ample time to revise, research and query. Remember when I first started chasing this dream, and you told me the writing was the easy part? I didn’t believe you then. Now I have firsthand understanding of how right you were. The quest to revise a story until it’s so tight it squeaks takes three times as long as it did to write the dang thing in the first place. Querying is the very essence of a lesson in patience. And when it comes to research… well, let’s just say “rabbit hole” and move on, shall we?
5. A viable and supportive publishing contract for my aforementioned trilogy. Honestly, if I could write fiction for a living instead of working another day job, I’d do a happy-dance in the street. I’d love it even more if it could be success on the level of Brandon Sanderson, or even J.K. Rowling. But I’m not greedy. I’ll take a contract that pays a reasonable advance and royalties, grants my agent (see item #2) significant motivation to represent me and my work, and offers me guidance and a little hand-holding in my initial foray into traditional novel publishing. That’s not too much to ask, right?
6. An evergreen laptop charge. Because seriously, one cannot always write where there is an electrical outlet.
7. Side time to engage in critique sessions with fellow writers and editors. Since I’ve already asked for additional time for two other specific tasks, I’m making this a standalone item because I so enjoy reading the work of my colleagues. Whether or not they are published, I always feel a little privileged that I am one of the first readers to lay eyes on their words. Besides, I know how much their feedback means to me, so the least I can do is reciprocate. Squeeze a few extra hours into the day for me to accomplish this. M’kay?
8. Truly outstanding classes and mentoring. This item isn’t just for me, really. It’s also for the writers I know, and the ones I don’t. We all recognize that the craft of writing is an ongoing process of learning. The markets are always changing and even if you help with item #3, it takes work to understand those trends. Classes help. Please don’t limit them to my local area (we already have a plethora here, but are always open to new options); deliver them online, too, with various options for writers who can—and those who can’t—afford to pay full-price. I know you are a big reader, Kris. This will benefit you, too.
9. Ongoing interaction with the writing community, both online and in real space. Please. For the sake of my sanity. Give me people who understand my weirdities.
10. More time to daydream. In fact, you know what? I’ve asked for a lot of time here, so let’s just roll items 1, 4, 7, and 10 into one time-related mega-item for the list: a 48-hour day. Maybe, if I write myself a tight schedule, I could fit it all in then.
Look, I know I’m asking a lot. But you have to admit I’ve been an angel (or at least not such a demon) this year. On top of that, I haven’t asked you for anything since I was a kid, so I think I’m due. As a sign of my advance thanks, you’ll find a cup of mulled wine and a bowl of popcorn beside the tree. I figure you’ll be tired of milk and cookies by the time you get to our place.
I’ll be thinking of you and the team in the coming weeks. Once I know you’re back home in your comfy chair with your feet up by the fire, I’ll raise a toast in your honor.
Thanks, Kris. My best to all at the N.P.