Empty, Pretty Boxes

Short post today, kiddos.

My fellow defender of Stealth Mode and Co-Queen of WAH!, Amanda, is the BESTEST package wrapper I know of. The girl still uses brown wrapping paper, like the stuff you see on parcels in adaptations of A Christmas Carol. And then she puts stickers of things she knows you personally are interested in all over it, super-artfully, writes little inside jokes in glitter gel pen, or poems, or funny sayings, just stuff tailored to you. And that's before you even cut off the tape.

Each little thing inside is wrapped with just as much care, in quirky, silly, fun varieties of papers, some with ribbons, some without. Some with paper-matching stickers, or metallic confetti, or loose glitter. It's not that these gifts are wrapped in 14 karat gold foil, or tied with ropes of pearls; they aren't. But they're special.

For about three minutes, and then they become a memory, albeit a very sweet, touching memory. Because you're not going to keep the paper or the boxes, no matter how much you love Amanda, or how touched you are she went so far to make this package just for you. You won't tuck away anything but maybe the card, or a small tear of the paper if you scrapbook.

What's important is inside the pretty, thoughtful wrapping paper. The heart is underneath.

Your manuscript is the same. You can mistake the wrapping for the substance in at least two ways I can think of off the top of my head.

  1. You can think the presentation of your manuscript (especially if you're snail-mailing a full to an agent), is important. Books will tell you to distinguish your work with something eye-catching. Don't. Distinguish your work by following the frakkin' parameters the requesting agents lists, thereby making the poor harried agent's day that much easier.
  2. You can think your story, the characters, the plot, the narrative, the tension, the things that make it yours, aren't special enough unless you drown them in the literary version of spot-lights and pageant make-up. Don't do that, either.
Your book is yours. Just for you. If you try to gimmick into being for someone else, you'll lose it, and you'll lose readers.*

*This is not to imply you are infallible, just that you don't have to please everyone all the time.

Personal Note: Amanda and our very good, very funny friend, Roger. They were at an Irish pub, so draw your own conclusions about the unrestrained smiling and glassy eyes.

I miss her. Stupid New York.


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