Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Writing Wish List

Remember when you were a little kid and you'd write out your wish list for your birthday, or to Santa?  You'd agonize over the list, making sure to write the items down in order of importance (or, at least I did).  Then, there was the anticipation over which item(s) would be wrapped and waiting for you on that special day.  And finally, when you got something you really wanted . . . WooHoo!  True elation!

As you grew, there was that awkward time, where you stopped writing those lists out, and the gifts were less and less exciting.  Maybe someone would buy something that you only sort of liked, or maybe you stopped collecting a certain trinket, but the message didn't get passed down to everyone in your gifting circle.  When that started happening to me, people would often just want to give me a gift certificate.

On the one hand, gift certificates (or gift cards) are good, because the receiver can get whatever it is they want.  But it always seemed so impersonal to me, because to give a gift card is like saying "I don't know you well enough to buy what you'd like."  I do have people for whom I buy gift cards, because I don't see them often enough to know what they want or have--and nowadays, we're so connected to shopping on the web, it's more instantaneous that way--but a part of me still twinges inside whenever I buy one.  I once got a gift card from a boyfriend for my birthday.  He and I had been living together for a few years by then, so to get a gift card was one of the final straws that made me realize our relationship was dead; as was his admission that he had won the gift card . . . he hadn't spent ANY money on me for my birthday that year.

Anyway, I've lately come to realize that it gets harder for people to buy me things, the older I get.  I'm making a decent wage at my day job now.  I'm living with my fiancĂ© (soon to be husband), and we're sharing the bills.  So I have enough money to buy the things that I truly need, or even want on a day to day (or month to month) basis.  However, I still don't want to receive gift cards from people who've known me for years; it still feels impersonal to receive one.

Which is why I'm a big fan of Amazon's Wish List feature.  It makes it easy for me to compile a bunch of things that I want and then be able to send the list off to friends/family who might be in the market to buy me a present for occasions like Birthday, Christmas, or Just 'Cuz (my favorite gift-giving season).  With Amazon expanding their items more and more, I can "wish" for anything from books and movies, to clothing, to tools, and whatnot.  When I get something as a gift, I can go into the list and delete it easily; making room for something new that catches my eye.

Well, today I'm creating a Wish List for the things I want, from an author perspective.  Some are things I can only give myself, and others are things you readers might have answers for.  If you do have an answer, I'm hoping you'll give it to me as sort of a Birthday present . . . since my birthday was at the beginning of this month.

This list is in no particular order of importance.
  1. More time to write.
  2. Online grammar classes, so I can learn this stuff without having to finger through multiple manuals.
  3. More discipline, so I can make better use of the time I DO have for writing.
  4. Grammar classes in a mortar and brick building.  I'd LOVE to get college credit for something like this.
  5. A critique group in my neck of the woods, so we can meet in person.
  6. A grammar and punctuation cheat sheet - one page of easy-to-read pointers.
  7. A dedicated area for my writing.
I'm seeing a definite pattern here . . . but seriously, if any of you know where I can find a grammar/punctuation one-sheet, I'd really appreciate it if you'd pass the info along . . .


  1. I can identify with most of your wish list items, Alyx. Here's a link that may be of help:

    I do take exception to one of your items: In-person critique groups for me haven't worked. Too many personalities get involved, politics can develop and your words seem to get lost in the fray. I found most of the time spent was to socialize rather than work.

    Good luck on getting the rest.

  2. Thanks for the link, EB! I've already signed up for the newsletter.

    Thank you, also, for your comments on in-person critique groups. I'll have to keep an eye out for that.

  3. If I were making a list I would have an in-person critique group and an in-house computer repair guru. I also want a software instructor for the various word programs to find something that does want to change my margins randomly.

  4. Unlike EB, I had a great experience with an in-person critique group. I suspect the difference is that it was run by folks who had good critiquing rules and made sure everyone followed them.

    For your one-sheet grammar tips, I suggest you create one yourself. My guess is that most of the rules of grammar you have already internalized. When you find something you are messing up, add it to your personalized cheat sheet.

    After a bit, you'll have all of your "favorite" grammar issues in one place.

    I have an equivalent sheet for my writing foibles: all the things I need to check in my self-edit.

    ~ Jim

  5. EB, I've had great luck with in in-person critique group, but we're all professional writers, writing to pay the bills. It's our day job, so we have to take it seriously. We're friends and we socialize together, but never during critique sessions. So far, this group's been functioning well for over six years.

  6. My fiance has the same issues with Word, Warren. I've never had problems with formatting in that software, so I can't empathise, sorry.

  7. I'm glad to know you've had success with in-person critique groups, Jim & Linda. It gives me hope that I can find one; I just have to make sure they treat it as professionally as yours have.

    Thanks for the advice on creating my own cheat-sheet, Jim. That's probably what I'll end up doing, by compiling what I can find from grammar sites.

  8. My in-person critique group only has one person I turn to for actual critiquing. Our once a month meeting is to share something we've read and make some comments about it. Because we are limited to 10 minutes, I can never read anything from my WIP. Also, a chapter a month would lose its continuity.

    My Wish List would include more time and like Warren, a computer guru accessible when I need him/her and free or cheap. :-)

  9. I'm in two different critique groups, one meets monthly and the other fortnightly. Both are great for different reasons, but they both stick to a set of rules which makes the sessions run smoothly and efficiently. Maybe you could put an add up on Craig's list to find critique members - start on-line first for safety reasons. Otherwise I seem to remember Becky Levine drawing up a list of people wanting to join groups by area - her book on critique groups is pretty darned good too.

  10. Sorry to hear your critique group isn't as helpful as you probably hoped at first, Gloria. Maybe you & I should take Maddy's suggestion to heart about trying to make our own critique groups through Craigslist.

    Good luck with yours, Gloria! And thanks for the suggestion, Maddy. :)