As you can see from my picture, it looks like I’m wearing a kitten on my head.
See, my walking partner gave me an early Christmas present yesterday. And I very much appreciate the sentiment and the thoughtfulness that went into the gift (in fact, I was speechless). After all, we walk five miles a day in subzero temps all winter long, and she wants me to be warm.
And even though I’m too old to really care about what other people think—especially out on the trail in the middle of the woods—I still feel a little like I did in elementary school when my mother forced me to wear a bright blue nylon snowsuit that made me walk stiff-legged like Frankenstein all the way to school. It was warm (as most ugly outer garments are), but I think I would have preferred a little chill than to suffer the humiliation of wearing that fashion disaster all winter long.
Now, in the case of my most recent outer garmet acquisition (and no, it’s not made of real fur), I most definitely would have chosen a different hat for myself. But I’m a good friend, and I will wear the tabby cat hat on my head all winter long.
By now, I’m sure you’re probably wondering what all of this has to do with writing and building a successful freelance business. Well, I’m getting to that.
See, if you don’t tell the people in your life what you’d really like for Christmas, you just might end up with a kitten hat like me. Or like a couple of my other writer friends a few years back, you might unwrap a waffle iron, a pair of nosehair clippers, or expired Hickory Farm cheese on Christmas morning (and no, I’m not making these up).
The waffle iron was a present to my friend from her husband. And I don’t know if she ever made him waffles or not, but I know the man narrowly escaped getting bonked on the head with it after she unwrapped the gift. My friend Dave received the nose hair clippers from his mother one year. And the expired Hickory Farm cheese was a present from a couple that was notorious for badly executed re-gifting practices.
So that brings me to the point of this post. If you want to avoid unwrapping kitten hats and nose hair clippers under the tree this year, you’d better have a list to hand over to your spouse, parents, boyfriend, girlfriend, children, and friends.
Save them the money and the time agonizing over what to get your literary self and just hand them this list (or better yet, pen your own):
- A revolving line of credit at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or Borders. Or for the more budget-conscious of the bunch, a $25 gift certificate to a bookstore of your choice.
- One or more must-have freelance writing books from the following list: The Anti 9 to 5 Guide and/or My So-Called Freelance Life by Michelle Goodman; The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success and/or The Renegade Writer’s Query Letters That Rock by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell; Secrets of a Freelance Writer: How to Make $100,000 a Year or More by Robert W. Bly; The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency As a Freelance Writer in Six Months or Less by Peter Bowerman.
- Cool bookshelves or bookcases. Visit the WebUrbanist for some fabulous designs and ideas.
- A new laptop. My MacBook literally changed my freelance life. Or if you don’t need a new laptop, what about an external hard drive or digital recorder for all those interviews?
- Useful services. I would love it if someone offered to pay my wireless bill, annual membership to mediabistro.com or Freelance Success for a year. Wouldn’t you?
- A year’s supply of really good coffee. Few writers can write without good java flowing through the veins. I know my prose greatly improves with a Starbucks triple venti skim milk latté. Best of all, your gift-buyers can purchase all your coffee online. And if you’re not a Starbucks fan, consider putting an expresso machine or chocolate-covered expresso beans on your list.
- A stress-relieving tool. Rejection letters got you down? What about asking for a gym membership or a gift certificate to the local spa? Or if you want to work out in your own home, what about a treadmill to run or walk off all the potato chips, mocha almond fudge ice cream, or [fill in the diet no-no of your choice] that you scarf down under deadline pressure? Or just skip sweating altogether and ask for a massage chair (if you get one of these, please invite me over).
So fellow readers and writers, please feel free to buy me anything off of the above list.
But please, no more kitten hats.
What have I left off the list? Please feel free to add in the comments section below so that you can print off the list in its entirety and give it to Santa or one of his elves.