As adults we usually don't have the long wish lists that we did when we were children. I don't haunt the tree, shake my presents, and try to figure out what I'm getting. (I don't need to. I have a four year old, and she's pretty good at telling me what I'm getting, even when I don't ask her!)
When we get older, our wish lists grow shorter, more expensive, and practical. In fact I'd venture to guess, for most of us, our deepest wishes usually aren't material possessions. If you're like me, whenever you need something you head out to the store and buy it.
No, the items we want most are the things hardest to obtain. Peace with our wayward child. Rejuvenation for a struggling marriage. Health for the suffering loved-one. And so much more. . .
Our lists go deep. The desires pulse through our blood. We ache for their fulfillment. We would gladly forgo unwrapping all of the material presents under the tree, if only we could have just one of our deepest wishes come true.
As writers we have a whole other wish list--all of the hopes we have for our writing career. Perhaps we can't wait to snag the attention of an agent or editor. Maybe we long to final in a contest or land a book deal. Ultimately, we dream about the day we hold our published book in our hands.
But what is the one thing a writer desires most? Is it really publication? When I think about next fall, when I finally get to finger the pages of my first published book, my heart certainly soars. I can't deny that publication is a dream come true.
However, is seeing my book in print really my deepest wish? Is it really yours? If it is, then wouldn't we be more willing to consider self-publishing? After all, with self-publishing we're guaranteed seeing the fruit of months and years of hard work. And if publication was really the goal, then why would we care so much about building platforms and increasing sales?
The reality is that most writers want more than publication. Maybe some wish for allusive fame and fortune. But most of us want our words to make an impact, to hit readers in the heart and leave an imprint that changes the way they view life. We want our words to breathe fresh hope into lives that often so desperately need it.
We labor over our stories because deep down we know that the real joy in writing comes not only from the creative process, but also from being able to share the pleasure of our stories with others. And traditional publication still gives us the largest audience for such sharing.
Not every wish can come true--not with our writing or in life. But we can start today by chasing after the things that truly matter most. We can run after them until they're within sight, never giving up until finally they're within our grasp.
What's at the top of your wish lists this Christmas?
Have a Merry Christmas, everyone! I'll be taking some time off from blogging over the holidays and won't post again until Monday, Jan. 4.