Christmas is on Friday and some of you will likely be giving gifts. I know some of you bought all the presents you’re giving last July. This post isn’t for you. This post is for all of you, who like me, just realized that, “Christmas is Friday.” I know a few will now be opening a new browser window to see if there is enough time left to have a gift basket sent to Mother.
Then there will be that mad rush to find gift cards for the grand kids, nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and a few extra for those hyperactive dinner guests who brought a present for you even after you said, “Let’s not exchange gifts this year.”
Now some of you might be thoughtful types and think, “My friend is a writer. What should I give a writer?” Well, I have the nearly complete list for you right here.
Writers are simple, yet complex creatures. Ask a writer what they want for Christmas and you’re likely to get answers like:
- A great metaphor
- A decent story idea
- An editor I can trust
- An agent who will return my calls
- 1,000 more blog followers
All great things, but likely nothing within your power to give.
I’ll group my list into two parts: Presents you likely shouldn’t give, but likely will anyway, and gifts that your friend will treasure. Did you know there is a difference between a present and a gift? There is and no, I am not going to explain it.
Presents you could give and likely would get a polite thank you for:
- Paper, pens, pencils, desk sets, notebooks, blank journal books, and such. Everyone likes nice fancy note paper, but I write on a computer. Likely the only time I’ll use the fancy note paper and deluxe pen is to write your thank you note.
- Books. Yes, we writers read lots of books. I’ve got two library cards, a Kindle and a small library in my house. Chances are that I already have, or have already read, the book you just thought of. Unless it’s a brand new book you just wrote. In that case, I’d love a signed copy of your book.
- Barns and Noble gift card. Okay, you really want to give a book, so how about a gift card. I can deal with that. It will get used. Unless your friend still resents B&N for being the reason that their favorite local quirky independent book store failed and had to close in 2002 and is now boycotting B&N.
- Amazon gift card. Not bad and seeing that Amazon is about to force B&N into bankruptcy that puts them in more friendly light. Except when we start to think about how Amazon has changed publishing and driven so many bad changes to the publishing world that have likely driven writer’s royalties down. Now we’re confused if we should support it, or keep using it to self-publish our E-books on Kindle. Well, you can buy other stuff on Amazon so if you gave me one, don’t be suppressed if I buy a box of sandpaper, or that nice tea I like.
- Coffee mugs, fancy coffee machines, gourmet tea, etc. Seriously, this crossed your mind?
- Starbucks gift card. Yes, some writing is fueled by caffeine. Warning: some folks rank Starbucks up there with the evil corporate giants that are destroying the wonderfully quirky beloved little mom-and-pop coffee bar on the corner.
- Wine, beer, scotch, or other “adult beverage.” Won’t help the writing, but next time they have serious writer’s block it might be useful in forgetting problems. Also useful to encourage your friend to get drunk and call you at 3:00 am.
Gifts you should give to your writer friends. If you truly want to help your writing friends, please think about giving some of these.
- Encouragement. Writing is a lonely pursuit and often filled with rejection and self-doubt. A word of encouragement and a little cheer-leading is a gift.
- Conversation about writing. While writers tend to sit hunched over their computers or writing pads, they can be a talkative lot when you get them going. Many would find your interest uplifting and possibly helpful.
- Honest feedback. Can I be honest with you? Please, if the writing I asked you to read is crap, please tell me. Be gentle and understanding, but be honest. I appreciate feedback when it comes in this general format: What I liked about your piece was and here is what I think you could have done better. Even better would be to take your writer friend to Starbucks for caffeine and a conversation about how you could help provide them with quality honest feedback without totally screwing up your relationship. It’s tricky and a wonderful gift if done right.
- Do you know what a writer really needs? Time. Time to think,write, edit and stress over why the editor hasn’t emailed back. Time is limited and your friend likely has a family, job, etc, limiting their time even more. Maybe you could baby sit for them, or mow their lawn, or provide a meal, or rent a cabin in the woods for weekend. A beach house for the summer would be a nice touch…
- Experiences. I’ve written before about the concept of “breathing in” or exposing yourself to creative things to keep your mind filled with creative energy. You could do that for your friend. Tickets to a play, a concert or a good movie. A day trip to a museum. An invitation to a hike in the woods or a walk on the beach.
- Buy their books, follow their blog and go to their book signings.
So there you go, your complete gift guide for the writer in your life.
On Wednesday, I’ll post the complete guide to gift giving for woodworkers. It won’t be a long post since every woodworker knows the answer, “Clamps.”
Till next week,