Before I became a writer and a librarian, I taught preschool. At holiday time, my students always brought me sweet little packages (chosen and paid for by their parents.) Inside were the usual “Best Teacher Ever” coffee cups, “I Love My Teacher” tree ornaments and “Number One Teacher” ball caps. All very kind, but not at all what I would want. I couldn’t drink coffee at school, I already have enough ornaments to decorate two trees and we had a professional dress code that barred hats. I always thanked them as sweetly as I could even while I sighed inside, wishing the coffee cup was a $5 Office Depot gift card instead. The problem was that people didn’t really understand what a teacher might want.
Writers run into the same problem. Once it’s known that we like to write (or God forbid, that we’re attempting to do it for a living), the wacky presents start showing up. Some of them are great. I admit, I think a t-shirt that says “Be careful or I’ll put you in my novel” is funny, but if you don’t wear t-shirts, it’s just a dust collector. So I’ve made up a list of ideas for you, my fellow writers, to share with your friends and family. In case you feel you need it.
Despite our heavily technological society, sometimes the best writing happens on paper with a pen. If you look around on the internet, you’ll find sites offering gorgeous tooled leather notebooks that hold hand-crafted paper, and gold-plated fountain pens filled with ink mixed from the berries of a tree that only grows in the Himalayas in the summer, and I’m sure they’re all lovely. I have a gorgeous book of my own (and I even asked for it!) Trouble is, I’ve never written a word in it, because it’s too nice. If you want something to really work in, spiral notebooks and Uniball pens are the best way to go. They’re lightweight and portable, and the gift-giver can afford to give you three dozen notebooks and three packs of pens for less than price of one ultra-chi-chi leather book.
If you like to compose while you’re driving to and from work, and don’t want to risk crashing the car while looking down at the notebook, you might enjoy a digital voice recorder. The only problem is that your fellow drivers will see you furiously talking to yourself, and might wonder what you’ll do next. But sometimes that’s fun, too.
Ordinary household use of a printer doesn’t empty a cartridge very quickly, but printing manuscripts and query letters will dry you out fast, so the gift of reams of white paper and printer ink cartridges is delightful. Just be certain the gift-giver knows what sort of printer you have, or you’ll end up in an exchange line. Even better than paper and ink, ask for gift cards to Office Depot or Staples, so you can fetch the supplies you need on your own.
People give tickets to concerts and theater events all the time…what about the registration to an upcoming con? Or maybe the gift of airline tickets to get you to the con. Granted those are both a little more expensive than paper and voice recorders, but if it’s in your gift-giver’s budget, it’s the perfect present. Ooh, I think I should mention this one to my husband… If that’s too much, maybe a subscription to Locus, Realms of Fantasy or some other useful magazine would be just the thing.
When I was ten or eleven, it became cool to create personal gift certificate booklets to give to our parents. Things like “One hour of babysitting my sister without complaining” or “One week of washing the dinner dishes”, that sort of thing. If your gift-giver’s budget is tight, maybe he can give the gift of an uninterrupted hour every night so you can write without having to make dinner and do laundry. Time’s the one thing we can never have enough of. And it doesn’t even need wrapping!
Writers are, for the most part, crazy for books. Crrrrrrazy. I’d rather get books than most anything else. Gift certificates to the local independent bookseller are a great idea. If there’s not an indie nearby, go for the chain, or even Amazon. And of course, the best option for the writers on your gift list…books by those fabulous folks at Magical Words!
Feel free to post your own writerly wish lists in the comments.