It’s that time again.
Got a writer in your life who you like enough to spend time and money on them?
PLEASE FOR ME TO HELP YOU.
It’s the 2014 edition of gifts for writers.
Sometimes I like to pretend that ha ha ha I don’t really need my coffee to write ho ho ho that’s fine no really I can just have a cup of water, but the morning I try to write without coffee is either the morning I write like, 14 words (and 8 of them are “buh”), or it’s the morning I run out into the forest, stabbing woodland creatures with a pen. Either way: I needs my coffee, and smart money says that one of your favorite writers needs her coffee, too. As I’ve noted in the past, the Chemex makes coffee taste like coffee smells. It’s an elegant, easy way to brew coffee. (Though if you’re rolling around on a king-size mattress stuffed with cash, consider the DRAGON BREWER, which I’m pretty sure comes with its own hoard of gold. Or, at least, it costs one.)
2. A Coffee Subscription
Last year I said, “Hey, Tonx is a great coffee subscription,” and it was. It was so great, it got bought by Blue Bottle, whereupon it became a mediocre coffee subscription, so, yeah. Not doing that anymore. That said, other coffee subscriptions do exist. Royal Mile Coffee roasts helluva good beans regardless of whether you buy ’em as part of a subscription or bag by bag. Another friend recommends Klatch Coffee. Or, you can just hunt and kill other coffee drinkers for their blood, then harvest all of it in a sack, put a big pretty bow on it, and stick that sloshing red bag under the Christmas tree. Like a floppy beanbag full of liquified Santa.
3. A Special Writerly Coffee Mug Shut Up Yes I’m Shameless I Said Shut Up
Coffee should go in a coffee mug. Well, I mean, it should go into the writer’s mouth, but that’s its final destination, and really, isn’t life about the journey? What I’m saying is, the writer in your life needs some writerly mugs, and BOY HOWDY HEY LOOK I have a couple of those over there at the terribleminds merch store. Art Harder! Certified Penmonkey! Writer Juice! The Secret to Writing! No, I have no shame. That part of me was destroyed during The War.
4. A Writing Shed
The first year I did this list, I recommended you steal Neil Gaiman’s Magic Writing Gazebo, but obviously that’s impossible because that Neil, he needs it. You can try to take it from him but he’ll turn your eyes into buttons and your heart into a shrieking raven because that’s just the kind of power he possesses. Still, hey, a writer’s shed really is an option because now I have one! I call it the MYSTERY BOX, because inside the box will be created many mysteries. My friend, The Russian, calls it the “Write-Hole,” and occasionally I think of it as the “Murder Pit” because underneath the floor is — well, spoiler alert, a murder pit. And the attic is where I’ll keep one of my editors, Brian White. Anyway! Want the eternal servitude of your writer pal? Buy them a writing shed. Just don’t steal mine. I don’t have Gaiman’s magic, but I do have a murder pit.
5. Evernote Notebook
Behold: the Evernote Smart Notebook. Write into it. Use the Evernote app to snap photos of the pages which then become digitized as part of the Evernote app. The writer could use it to take notes, write drafts, sketch characters, or even design their very own murder pit (mine features walls lined with starveling squirrels, each clad in itty-bitty bondage gear). Or, you could just buy a regular notebook for said writer and said writer will curse you as the Luddite dullard that you are. Because technology is awesome, weirdo. GET ON BOARD THE ROBOT REVOLUTION.
6. This Sexy-Ass Livescribe Pen
Or, same idea, different angle: the Livescribe pen! All the shit you write down on paper also becomes digitized. Because magic. I mean, because technology. But technology is basically magic anyway. Which means using this pen makes you some kind of wizard.
7. Or Just Some Regular-Ass Pens
Fine, cheap-ass, just buy the author some pens. Real, non-fancy, non-digital, occasionally-stabby pens. Everybody has a preference for pens (and you are free to add your own favorites to the comment section below), but for my mileage, I like these little motherfuckers right here — Uni-Ball Signo Medium Gel Sticks, which is so absurd a title I’m pretty sure I just made up the name of some character or some smart drug in a new science-fiction novel. “Hey, Signo, you got those Medium Gel Sticks? I wanna get high and see cyber-ghosts, man. Call Livescribe and Chemex, tell them to get over here so we can get cyber–fucked up.” Anyway. You can buy those pens if you want. Or don’t. I don’t care. You’re in charge of your own fate, despite clear evidence that I should be the one making all the decisions for you.
8. Or How About Some Pencils You Goddamn Hipster
Oh, oh, fine. You’re one of those. “I don’t use pens. I use pencils. I cut them down from local artisanal pencil trees and I harvest the graphite by hand from a Park Slope graphite mine.” Okay, whatever, jerk. Just settle down. If you think the writer in your life would prefer some fancy pencils, well, here they are: Palomino Blackwing, 602.
9. Kidnap A Writer For A Plexiglass Inspiration Prison
I did once suggest that you kidnap Neil Gaiman as a gamboling muse-imp, but that really isn’t an option as his lawyers have suggested with this piece of paper called a “restraining order” (ha ha ha I violated your restraining order, suckers!). But hey, why not another author? For instance, I would make for excellent kidnapping, provided of course that someone takes me in, feeds me, bathes and combs the monsters out of my beard, massages my feet, tells me bedtime stories, pays me six figures a year. I’ll be some writer’s Muse Monkey. I’ll be a Personal Writing Coach. I’ll perch behind your writer pal’s monitor and yell at her any time she tweets instead of writing that book she’s supposed to be writing. I make an excellent gift. And I eat very little. By which I mean, I eat a lot. And drink a lot of coffee. And I’m fairly rude. I don’t really wipe my feet and I curse a lot. On second thought, I make a horrible gift.
Listen, I think Scrivener is just too much. I don’t get it. I tried cracking that nut and it was like, “HERE, TAKE 32 HOURS TO LEARN HOW TO USE THIS THING PROPERLY. ALSO, SCRIVENER IS AS UGLY AS A DONKEY COVERED IN WOOD PANELING.” I prefer the elegant simplicity of Word, and I like how Word sometimes just shits itself and loses my word count — it keeps things interesting, you know? Writers seek conflict, after all! Ha ha ha, weep. Anyway. Just the same, while I am personally too “old-man-get-off-my-lawn” about Scrivener, I know a lot of writers who utterly adore it, and so — why not nab a license for your Best Writer Pal? Actually, Scrivener 2 is now out, so hopefully we’ll find out what happened to Scrivener. Did he and Final Draft finally get together? Did he learn to breakdance to save the community center? Tune in.
Once upon a time I recommended the software known as Freedom, which is a thing an author can use to artificially lock himself out of the Internet like an ascetic in order to get some fucking work done. Here, similar piece of software by the same company (though for my mileage these two products should be combined into one because c’mon): Anti-Social. Helps a writer block specific websites and social media services so that, again, said writer can get some fucking work done.
12. Actually Social
You know what’s a good present? Just go talk to a writer. Not while she’s writing — because that’s how you die. Never interrupt a writer while she’s writing. That’s like interrupting a grizzly bear during its meal. Just let it eat, man. Just let it eat. No! I mean, when that writer is done writing? Go talk to them. Be nice. Let them blab about their writer problems. Engage in conversation, communication. Most of the time we just sit in the dark, going blind like cave owls, our hands curled into arthritic typey-typey shapes. Ease us out of the grotto. Make us feel human again.
13. The Hemingwrite
The Hemingwrite! It looks like a word processor from 1991, and it kinda is, except it also syncs with cloud apps and has an epic battery life and has wi-fi and an e-ink screen and yet won’t tweet or update Facebook or look at adorable otter videos. It is as bare and spare as you can get.
14. Backup Battery
An external backup battery for phone or iPad has saved my writerly ass many a time. I’m sitting there trying to look at porn I mean write a story at a conference or convention and my phone starts to enter into death throes (mysteriously jumping from like, 12% to 0% in the space of four seconds), boom. Plug in, drain the little energon cube I carry around with me, and I’m back.
15. NatureBox Healthy Snacks
NatureBox — healthy snacks delivered monthly. Nuts and dried fruits and funny little seeds because basically you’re just a bird? I dunno. Point is, though, writers need good healthy proteins to keep their brain functioning during the writing process, and something like this is that. Plus I’m sure you get all kinds of crunchy foods like heritage grain enemas and freeze-dried bok choy injector needles or whatever. Shut up and eat right, hippie. You and your author buddies.
16. Or, Fuck Your Healthy Snacks, Just Have Ice Cream
After going mad eating like, chia seeds or gluten-free air-puffed acai-puffs, your writerly loved one may just need some goddamn ice cream. And hence, I suggest to you the finest ice cream ever crafted by man — seriously, this is the apotheosis of ice cream, this is the end of all ice cream, game over, man, game over — Jeni’s Pint Club. The first rule of Pint Club is that you eat all the pints by yourself in a closet so that you don’t have to share with anybody else.
17. A Great Writing Advice Book
So many good writing advice books out there. The classic is, of course, Stephen King’s On Writing. Or I might suggest Lawrence Block’s three-in-one package (featuring the Liar’s Bible). OH AND HEY MAYBE THERE’S THIS BOOK CALLED THE KICK-ASS WRITER BY SOME CHODEBAG THAT YOU COULD CHECK OUT IF YOU WANNA. (A recent review of the book features a favorite recommendation: “Chuck Wendig is like a bearded, potty-mouthed Scheherazade, except he’s not saving his own life from within the King’s chamber’s he’s saving your writing ass.” Thanks, Mary Beth Bass!)
18. Show Your Work
Not a writing advice book, but a creativity advice book — Show Your Work by Austin Kleon.
19. Just Some Weird Shit
Doesn’t matter what it is, but writers love weird, quirky stuff. “Hey, I got you this cat skeleton” will probably get you arrested unless you’re giving it to a writer. I suspect it’s that each curio, each artifact, is suggestive of story. Unique objects. Strange things. A serial killer’s typewriter! A sex toy Christmas ornament! A life-size Yeti pelt! Aim weird. Writers love weird.
20. A Writerly Shirt (Yes, Still Shameless)
T-shirts! For writers! Art Harder! Certified Penmonkey! *bangs tin bucket*
21. The Storymatic
22. Things That Smell Like Books
Some writers are total book sniffers. They’re just junkies for the stuff. Sure, sure, e-readers are nice and all, but e-ink fails to exude that precious odor (which is really probably just the odor of a million dead mites and discarded human skin cells). So, help your junkie book-sniffer with this whole panoply of book-scented things. Perfumes! Candles! Sweat! Tears! A jar of dead mites! Okay, maybe not all of that. But definitely the first two things.
23. Ear Stuff
“Ear stuff” sounds like “butt stuff,” kinda, but that’s not what I mean. Wonky perv, you. What I mean is, above I covered the olfactory, so now it’s time to handle the aural side of a writer’s needs. Audible gift account? Sure. Pandora? Why not? Will you buy a recording of me yelling at writers to finish their shit? I can do that for you. I’m your huckleberry.
24. Physical Pleasure
For god’s sakes, people, writers need love, too. Strop up against us like cats. Rub us down with various lotions and oils. Attend to our erogenous zones! Failing all of that, might I suggest getting a writer a massage? A proper massage does wonders, given that most of us have the posture of a dead, curled-up beetle. Help us look and feel human again, willya?
25. A Beard
All writers have beards. Even the seemingly beardless are possessing of beards — our words hanging dense and heavy upon our chins, a carpet of tangled story like so many fibers and tentacles. As such: buy the writer in your life a beautiful yarn-beard. Luxuriant. Rich. Plump. And they can spray it with book-scented perfume, too.
Bonus: Cross-Stitch Profanity!
The wunderbar Liz Lincoln did for me an ART HARDER, MOTHERFUCKER cross-stitch to hang on the wall of my new writer’s shed, and she has an Etsy store. Further, I think she’ll take commissions, though I do not suspect those will get to your writer pal in time for Xmas.