Jan 2, 2011

What Not to Get Someone Without Consulting Them First

by Wendy A. Jones

I know it's a little bit gauche to talk about the presents we get at Christmastime. I've spent the last couple of months pounding the adage "'tis more blessed to give than to receive" into my children's brains, so talking about all the great stuff I got and how spoiled I am rings a bit falsely on the inner bells.

Be that as it may, for the sake of this blog post I must persist: guess what I got for Christmas.

You'll never guess.

Well, a lot of you reading this are writers, so maybe you will.

I got THIS:

A Chicago Manual of Style.

Let me say that again.

A Chicago Manual of Style!

Some of you, perhaps even some of you writers, may be shaking your heads in confusion, or pity, or consternation, or a chaotic mix of all three at my excitement.

I mean, seriously, folks. A glorified grammar book?

In fact, I'm sure my brother and his wife (who had my name for Christmas this year) shook their heads in exactly that way when I answered the question, "What do you want for Christmas?"

Which is possibly why my brother, sweetheart that he is, checked back several times before making the purchase. "You're sure that's what you want? Really?"

I don't know.

There have been times when I've tried to give up on this writing gig. Times when I think, "Shoot. Do I need to put myself through the agony of creation and then decimation?" There are hundreds of thousands of good books already out there. I'm under no false impression that I'm writing the Great American Novel. I'm no Harper Lee and no one will name their child "Atticus" after my noble hero--if he were named Atticus, which he's not.

But for some strange reason, writing has got me by the scruff of my neck and won't let me loose no matter how many times I kick it in the shins. Instead of fighting it with all my well-reasoned arguments, I'm embracing it. Along with my Chicago Manual of Style (which I used to clarify the present subjunctive in the previous paragraph).

Yes, it's really what I wanted.

I've found that when there's something you want, the best way of going about getting it is to ask. Because if we don't have any direction, a lot of times we humans think someone else wants what we ourselves would like. (Which may explain why I gave so many books for Christmas, or why my Aunt Margaret owns a fishing rod.)

And, while that thing might be nice:

[cough--Star Trek Cookie Jar--cough]

unless we hold Trekkie retreats in our uncle's cabin and have been asked to bring cookies, sometimes they don't get as much use as something else might.

P.S. Seriously, though--don't get anyone a Chicago Manual of Style unless they specifically ask for it, even if they are a writer. I'm not taking the heat on that one.


  1. LOL!

    Seriously, what an awesome gift! Good for you for asking.

    I've been asking for reams of paper for years. People politely shook their heads, and privately thought I was nuts, but they sometimes bought them for me. This year I asked for a gift card to Barnes & Noble. And I got it!

  2. I love your style, Wendy! It's great to have you here. Thanks for the smile. hugs~

  3. Marsha--That reminds me of a story President Hinckley told about when he first started working for the church and asked for a ream of paper. "Do you know how many pages a ream is?" Maybe that's what I'll ask for next year.

    Kari--thank you! I'm a bit in awe to be here, but am thankful for the opportunity all the same.


  4. One year a very sweet friend got me a dictionary, a Writer's Market book and a notebook (before PCs, yep I'm that old). I still think fondly on that gift, so enjoy yours. Kept that Writer's Market for years!!!!

  5. What a great gift. It was on my list too, but I think it'll just have to be a gift to myself. :)

  6. What a great gift. Smart to have asked for what you wanted. Your blog brightened my day.

  7. Fun post, Wendy, and yay for you for embracing your writerly self!


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