December 10, 2009

Wing Tip #2: Thank you notes

(These are simple cards I crafted from scrapbook paper.)

As promised, I'm sharing a bit of what I've gleaned from Making A Literary Life (love this book).  The following is a summation in the author's words:

"The 18-minute version, simplicity itself, is in this paragraph:  a thousand words a day (or two hours of revision) five days a week, for the rest of your life, and--and!--one charming note (or phone call that makes your hands sweat),  five days a week, for the rest of your life."

"Why do I have to write notes?" you may ask.

"Life is a matter of courtship and wooing, flirting and chatting..." Carolyn answers.  "These notes are just notes.  You don't want to burden some poor wrench with the entire story of your life.  You absolutely don't want to ask them for a favor, as in: 'Hello, I really like you work.  Enclosed please find my 800-page manuscript on giant lizards who live under the earth--and throw massive lizard conventions!--in the state of Arizona.'  Don't offer to go and live with them.  Remember what your mother taught you about thank-you notes (if she bothered).  Be gracious.  You're entering into an emotional and spiritual courtship with the literary world that will last the rest of your life."

Learning from other writers (and my Mother), I started sending thank-you notes early--especially for rejections.  BECAUSE, those editors...they do a LOT.  And they rarely get thanked for it.  A thank-you feels like getting a present, it lifts them up.  And we want to lift them, right?  Because without editors...where would writers be?  (I know it's the chicken and egg thing--because without us where would they be, but work with me here)  This is one of those tasks that seems unnecessary, but I can vouch for what one little note can do.  I've found that I get much more detailed rejections (and acceptances) when I've been sending thank-you notes to that editor.  That's not why I send them, but I think it's worth mentioning.  They notice.

So Wing Tip #2 today is simple: Send thank-you notes.  Or "charming notes" as Carolyn See says.


  1. What a fabulous idea! I've sent a few, but not nearly enough. This was a super-great post, Catherine - thank you! :)

  2. Thank you cards are such a sweet surprise, I need to send them more often.

    I have a little award for you on my blog :)

  3. Yeah, editors are over worked, underpaid, and under-appreciated. If and when I ever have an editor he/she will be praised as my hero to anyone who will listen. And yes, I'll send nice gifts. ;)

  4. Shannon, well, I certainly don't send five a week like Carolyn suggest. (Not yet, anyway)

    Diana, I know! And who doesn't love a surprise? Speaking of which THANK YOU for my award.

    Karen, gifts? Oooo, good idea!

  5. Thanks for stopping by my blog the other day...and for reminding us of how important the simple things are!

  6. Jenna, if I could write poetry like you, I'd add it to my cards.

  7. What a clever way to send a thank you. The value of sending thank you notes is fleeting. I hold to it. Great post.
    ~ Wendy

  8. Sadly thank you notes seem to be going out of style. I never would have though of sending them to an agent after a rejection, but you're right - those agents do work hard and it never hurts to be gracious.

  9. Thank you notes are a little joy we give to each other....I wish more people would pick this up, especially young adults, and children. I feel it teaches children to value others. I appreciate your blog! Have a Merry Christmas. Elizabeth Riggin author/poet


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