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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Writer's Thanksgiving

The following first appeared in Footnotes, the newsletter for Dunes & Dreams Romance Writers

Here in the United States, November is traditionally the month where most people spend some time reflecting on the good things in their lives: health, family, friends, etc. While I have all of those rewards in my daily life, I’m also grateful for all the advantages I have as a writer. I, therefore, proudly present my list of blessings to reflect upon--from a writer’s point of view.

1. The Internet. From companionship to research to purchase power, the Internet is a writer’s best friend (sorry, spouses). Thanks to this marvelous system, we stay in touch with other writers, find out how to make a body decompose faster, and instantly buy a book based on the excerpt we just finished reading online. Can you imagine showing this technology to someone like Mark Twain, Jane Austen, or Charles Dickens? Do you think it would make them more prolific or less so? Because let’s face it. Although the Internet is a great tool, Farmville, email, and YouTube can also make it a bit of a time suck. Still, in my eyes, the instantaneous benefits far outweigh the vampire vibes. Thank you, Internet, for just being you!

2. Office supply stores. Looking for paper, ink, electronics, Post-It notes, software, coffee, giant bags of chocolate (and those big square containers of individually wrapped Twizzlers)? Want a comfy new desk chair? Yeah…they got that. All that a writer needs to survive can be found in this glorious mecca for authors. When the apocalypse comes, I’ll be safely camped out in my local Staples. I figure I can live there comfortably for lots of years. Where are you going? A bomb shelter? Puh-leez. How are you going to get Internet service underground?

3. E-publishing. Over the last ten years, while traditional houses were churning out Scotland historicals and secret babies, the electronic market allowed writers “on the fringe” the opportunity to become mainstream. Erotic romance, paranormal romance, and the non-traditional settings have all become popular in the e-market. And traditional publishers have paid attention, widening their markets, as well. I see a great future for this venue, thanks to its convenience, ecological impact, and flexibility.

4. E-readers. The hard truth? Readers are addicts. Sure, our habit is legal, but it’s also difficult to control. We need to constantly feed our need for great stories. So we’re the ones trolling Amazon at two in the morning or walking with eyes glazed more than a Krispy Kreme through our local bookstores. We don’t see the library scene in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast as a sweet moment of generosity between the hero and heroine. For us, it’s a goal! Unfortunately, palace residences with massive libraries are rare these days. Thus, the electronic book reader allows us to indulge our addiction without killing trees or moving the baby outside to a tent to make room for us to store our “keepers.” And thanks to instant downloading, we no longer have to leave home or camp out on the porch until the UPS man shows up with our latest fix. We can have instant gratification!

5. The home office. In the old days, writers had typewriters. And typewriter ribbons. Revisions were a nightmare of Wite-Out and retyping whole pages for one or two lousy words. Copies required pumping a roll of nickels into Xerox machines at libraries, or slipping the pages surreptitiously into work being done at the day job. Now we have the ability to change whole paragraphs (or pages!) with a few clicks of the mouse. We can email as many copies as we need, or print out entire manuscripts in minutes—all from our cozy homes.

6. Peapod delivery, the Roomba and Scooba, and the Keurig. Oh, be still my heart. With the touch of a few buttons, you can feed the family, get the floor cleaned, and have all the coffee your little heart desires. And you never have to leave the comfort of home (are you sensing a pattern here yet?). Even the K-cups for coffee are available online (my favorite site is and delivered right to your doorstep.

7. RWA. No, I’m not sucking up. Honestly. How many writers’ organizations accept unpublished, unskilled hopefuls and give them the tools to succeed? RWA is 10,000 members strong, a number that’s tough for anyone to ignore. Toss in the affiliated chapters, and you’ve got, at your disposal, all the resources you need to reach your dreams. How could you not be thankful for all the information on the writing life and the publishing business available at your fingertips?

8. The storytellers who came before. Whether we’re discussing William Shakespeare or Nora Roberts, from the cave dwellers of prehistoric times to the top author on today’s NY Times bestseller list, those who’ve come before us have shaped the writing world. We write and believe we can succeed because they wrote and succeeded. My eternal gratitude goes out to all of them.

Your list may vary. Regardless, these are great times to be a writer. No matter how or when you celebrate your Thanksgiving, may your blessings be many and your rejections few!


Paris said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Gina! Loved the post and you are so right--writers have more opportunities today than at any other time.

I love the fact that e-publishers are getting stories out there that are on the fringes because that's what I love to read!

Have a great holiday season;-)

jean hart stewart said...

Lots of ideas in this. I sometimes resent the internet, but mostly adore it. For research there is nothing better. As a time-sucker there is nothing worse. Happy t-day to you and yours. Jean

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