We gather together this week to be thankful for many things. You writers out there, tear yourselves away from the angst you're experiencing trying to make chapter 3 make sense and join me a moment. If you have trouble coming up with your own objects of thanksgiving, here are a few suggestions:
1. THE HUMBLE ERASER - Whether an old-fashioned pencil eraser or the delete key on your laptop, writers ought to be thankful for the ability we have for do-overs. Not all professions get a break like this. If you're rabidly unpublished, salivating at the thought of being in print, realize that this advanced state ruins your chances for do-overs. Once you charge money for your work, everyone gains the right to ridicule you over bad research and awkward sentences. So appreciate your eraser while ye may.
2. THE PERSONAL COMPUTER - If not for this wonder of the modern world, I doubt I'd have written more than a few silly poems and the occasional letter from Santa to a young friend. I'm in complete awe of Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and the like, working with nothing but pen and paper, and Agatha Christie, with a typewriter. I'd have been culled from the herd long ago.
3. THE RIGHT SIDE OF YOUR BRAIN - Without the fantasy centers of your brain, you'd be reduced to writing grocery lists. Even how-to manuals need a little imagination. The majority of Americans, however, only use the brain's right side for things like online dating, road rage, and overreacting to political fear mongers.
4. EMAIL SUBMISSIONS - Used to be, just a few short years ago, writers would say they were thankful for all-night office supply stores that had their printer cartridges in stock and plenty of extra reams of paper because, inevitably, you'd find yourself in need as you printed off that 400-page manuscript that was already 2 days behind deadline. Publishers who take email submissions are, in their small way, saving the planet and deserve sainthood.
5. FLEXIBLE DAY JOBS - Enough said.
6. YOUR MUSE - Whoever inspires you, whether human or divine, somehow find a way to thank that being and often. Bling, chocolates, sacrificial offerings. Whatever it takes.
7. TURBO TAX - Why is it that the less we make, the more tax schedules we have to fill out? Most writers forget they're also business people. Give thanks for your tools--AAA discounts, website hosts, appointment books, etc.
8. GOOD EDITORS - They make us look better than we are. God bless 'em.
9. JOHANNES GUTENBERG - If not for this gentleman, we'd all still be dependant on monks making copies of our books by hand, and nobles and clergy being our only readers. Before JG, selling 10 copies gave you bestseller status. His printing press contributed to the development of the free library system, bringing literacy within reach of everyone. So, why exactly ARE we cutting library budgets and electing politicians who seem proud of the fact that they rarely read?
10. READERS - Without them, we're nothing.
That's it for 2009. Next year I'm hoping I can give thanks for a healthcare reform package that will allow American artists to give up the wan Bohemian stereotype. None of us want to be Mimi in the final act.