I Have a Favor to Ask

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I_Love_Lucy_1955

Is there anything more head-smackingly awkward than asking favors of other writers? You might never have experienced writer’s block in your life, but sit down to compose a 200-word email to the friend you need something from, and find yourself twelve hours later with nothing but a vacuumed carpet.

And yet it’s totally necessary. And anyone you’re writing to has definitely been there, wondering how they could possibly ask something so huge from such a busy person, and wishing they’d been to that one magical conference that would have hooked them up with all the contacts and favors ever. You know, the one everyone else went to.

Lucky for you, I’m here to help. Simply use the following form, and you’ll never be pen-tied again.

Dear _______________:

A) Excited to see you at AWP!
B) Sorry I’ll miss you at AWP!
C) God, I haven’t seen you since AWP in Chicago, when we both passed out at that karaoke thing…
D) I don’t know if you remember me, but Bruce introduced us at the meet-and-greet in Atlanta after that library event. I was the one who made awkward conversation about how I once left your book on a plane, and then I apologized for never having finished it, and then I apologized for telling you the story, and then I dropped some brie on your foot.
E) Hey chica, how’s it shakin?

I absolutely hate doing this, but I’m in the horrible position of having to ask a favor.

A) I’ve been searching for an agent for the past 93 months, and it’s not going so well…
B) My book is coming out in June, and my editor wants to get the blurbs locked in now…
C) I’ll be passing through town and I have a couple days to spare, and I really need to promote this collection…
D) I have an essay about my struggles with gastrointestinal health that just can’t seem to find a home…
E) I had to back out of judging this novel contest at the last minute, and there are twenty finalists, and it doesn’t pay, and I promised I’d find my own replacement…
F) My agent has decided I need at least twelve blurbs on this manuscript before she even sends it out to editors, but the book is like totally done, I’m sure an editor wouldn’t even change it much, and even though these blurbs would probably be replaced on the finished book by the ones my eventual editor will want, they might make it onto my website or something…
G) I really need someone to read over my novel for plot, character, punctuation, language, structure, and also spelling, because I write with spell-check off…
H) I’m applying to this residency, and they need a few people to vouch that I’m not too crazy to live with, I mean relatively, for a writer, ha ha ha, but seriously…
I) I’m applying to twenty-seven different MFA programs for the coming year…
J) I’m already thinking ahead to AWP 2018, and…
K) As you probably know, I lost my teaching job last spring after those accusations went public…

Oh God, this is so awkward. Do you ever get used to this stuff? I hate how we have to do this. Anyway…

A) I’m wondering if you’d be able to…
B) I’d owe you a bazillion thanks if you might possibly…
C) I’ll totally return the favor someday (when I’m famous, ha!) if you might…
D) I’m just going to come right out and ask whether you’d…

A) write me a(n)…
B) introduce me to…
C) put in a word for me with…
D) look over…
E) write a few words about my…
F) hook me up with…
G) judge…
H) join my…
I) kiss up to…
J) tell me if you know of any…

A) your agent
B) 500-word letter of recommendation
C) panel(s) on post-masculine, post-American, post-racial lyric poetry written by white American men
D) your editor
E) the journal editor I see you worked with once eight years ago, because I crossed-checked all back issues of the journal against my Facebook friend list
F) Michiko Kakutani
G) job openings that don’t require a PhD, or references
H) my 725-page manuscript, which I know needs some trimming, LOL
I) these contest entries, most of which are written in the second person plural, future tense because of some comment I made last year about liking that kind of thing
J) blurb
K) reading series happening next week in Lawrence, Kansas that might still have some open slots
L) Amazon review, to counteract some of this negativity
M) David Remnick’s dogwalker

There, I said it! That wasn’t so bad, was it? (I mean, maybe it was. You tell me. God, I hate this.) I will totally understand if you’re…

A) in drafting land
B) still mad at me
C) reeling from the divorce and the move and that review and everything
D) busy with the movie deal, you big Hollywood guy, you
E) overwhelmed with requests like this
F) not into my work (Just kidding! But I will totally assume so if you say no! Ha, no, just kidding again! Sort of!)

In any case, a huge THANKS! Just for reading this. Seriously, feel free to say no!

A) Let’s get coffee soon!
B) You are literally the only successful writer I know, and if you say no I’ll probably just give up and move back to my mom’s house in Arizona.
C) I have compromising photos of you from Bread Loaf 2012.
D) I’m looking in your window right now…No, the other window. Nice bathrobe.