I want to talk about writing. Really I do, but instead I’m going to talk about stuff. Sharon Lee talked about the Levenger catalog on her blog the other day. Levenger, if you don’t know, carries really nice office supplies, furniture, fountain pens, and all sorts of luxurious sorts of office related supplies. The question Sharon has, is who buys this stuff? Who uses it? I wonder the same thing. I used to covet some of the stuff, almost as a marker of being professional. Like I would be a real grown up writer if I had some of the cool stuff. I do admit they’ve cut down considerably on their breadth of products over the years, and to me, the offerings aren’t nearly as enticing, though I can’t be sure if that’s because I no longer find things as interesting, or if their products are not as amazing as I remember them being.
The thing is, as I’ve grown into this career, I’ve learned that sure, I like a few really expensive things, like my computers, which are an iMac and a Macbook Pro. That has to do with my ability to be productive, more than anything else. I find them less time consuming and frustrating over the long haul, as compared to Windows machines. But other than that, my expensive things are my shelves and my books. For the rest, I have plebian tastes, or maybe the better term is functional. I like smooth gel pens. I like regular notebooks with paper, or better yet, yellow pads, for taking notes and scribbling out ideas. I don’t use much other stuff. Yeah, a stapler and a hole punch, and yes I have a monster expensive chair (after three back surgeries, I figure it’s a sane choice). So anyhow, I tossed the Levenger catalog with barely a look. Nothing was interesting.
But that made me think, just what might a writer want for a gift? Especially if you want that gift to be really appreciated. You want it to be fun and clever, yet useful. Let’s start super high end.
This is a walking desk. I should say it’s the Cadillac of walking desks, what with the treadmill being off to the side and the desk raises and lowers according to what you want to do. I’ve heard a number of writers talking about this sort of setup (though frankly far far cheaper) as a means to avoid stiffness, back pain, swellling, and a number of other issues. I’d try it. Course I’m not sure I could keep track of my feet. Some writers say they can’t compose while walking, but they can certainly blog or check email or do research. So if you’ve got an extra five grand laying around, you might buy this for the writer in your life.
Next let’s go with something much much much more affordable. It’s a hat. This hat: I know, it’s pretty silly. But it is a useful thing. It’s so easy to forget that in fact you are a writer. That when you are home, you are also at work. You have to remember that writing is your purpose during certain hours. Being able to put the hat on is a trick for your mind, that while you’re wearing it, you must write. It can do the trick for those writers struggling with focus and to help them stick with their writing instead of cleaning, raking leaves, cooking, or what have you.
This next one is kind of a cheap one too. But one of my favorites. It’s a Milky Gear Journal. It has black pages and works well with Gel Ink pens (so if you’re giving one of these, or two or ten, include some gel pens). Light colored, of course. So what’s the big deal, you might be asking. Who cares about writing with light, shiny pens on black paper? But writers do. It’s an artsy way of writing and all of a sudden you can jump out of a rut and write cool and interesting things because it’s like you’re writing with magic. I know, sounds silly, but trust me, it works. There’s something about the shiny on the black that just feels magical.
Noise cancelling headphones would be my next suggestion. It’s really easy to be distracted by the life that goes on around you, so they are really cool. I’m not pointing to any in particular, because I couldn’t tell you which are the best. I want some, and I’ve eyed some Bose headphones. Maybe one day.
Speaking of headphones, I personally think a good gift are headphones with a speaker for the phone. That way if you end up having to be on the phone, your hands are free to type. Maybe that’s because you have an interview and want to make notes, or you are talking with your agent or editor and need to scribble down ideas and thoughts. Maybe that’s because you ended up having to call your internet provider and are stuck on hold. Maybe you’re talking to a computer tech who is walking you through how to fix your computer. But I find headphones for the phone priceless (the speakerphone sucks). I like the kind that go behind the head instead of over the head, and that cover both ears. Over the head headsets start putting pressure on the ears and hurt over time.
This last one might sound strange, but give it a minute: Tarot cards and/or runestones and books on how they might be used for a reading. These would not be for personal use, but for character development and plotting. They can be a fun way to engage your story, or to generate a story. Do a reading for a character and discover things about him or her and make those things relevant to the story. You can go with a tradition Ryder deck, or one of the many beautiful options out there that have a particular bent–fairies, wizards, dragons, and so on.
On top of that, I still covet leatherbound notebooks with a cool designs on them. Or moleskin notebooks. I also love fun and unique pens. I also love crystal suncatchers for the windows.
What do you think? What does your inner writer want?