Why yes, it is that time of the year again. That time when you, a person who has a Precious Penmonkey in their lives, wonders aloud, “What the fuck do I buy for a writer? Do they need food pellets? Are they powered by bees? Do I just throw notebooks and pens at them until they write a masterpiece? WHO THE HELL ARE THESE PEOPLE.”
And here is where I appear out of the earth — like a ghost except made of lava because how cool is a lavaghost? — and give you some much-needed help. Here are some gift options for the Precious Penmonkey in your life. In your house. Possibly even in your heating ducts.
(For previous year lists –>)
Yep, I’m Going To Be Giddily Shameless
I wrote a book. It’s called Damn Fine Story. It’s not about writing, per se, but it is about storytelling — how to frame and shape your narrative, how to let characters lead the way, how to use metaphor and theme, and so forth. It also explains how my father lost his pinky finger and it talks a lot about Star Wars and Die Hard and, hey, you know what, just stop here and buy it. Buy it for your writer pal. It isn’t a one-stop shop for easy answers, but it hopefully will challenge them to look at their stories in a new way. Grab it in print or ebook. For a bonus round, check out my bundle of writing-related e-books here. THANK YOU FOR ENDURING MY SHAMELESS FROTHING. Please reward yourself with a cookie.
White Noise Machine
In case you haven’t noticed, 2017 is a year of shenanigans — it is the Epoch of Deepest Dipshittery, the Timeline of Wonky Whatfuckery. It’s an endless barrage of nonsense coming at you from all angles. The news alone is like being covered in biting ants, always, eternally, impossibly. It’s ants and ants and more ants. This is legitimately difficult for us word-wrangling writerfolk, because we will lose ourselves to the crawling and the biting. And so, we need distractions. One distraction that’s been helpful for me both in writing and in sleeping? Blissful white noise. You can use various apps or white noise albums, but a white noise machine makes a nice gift for underneath the Holiday-Neutral Joy-Shrub of choice. If want something that plugs into the wall, the Red Rooster machine is nice. If you’d prefer something with a bunch more sounds and powered by USB, this Pictek model is handy. Or you can just stand over them and go WHOOSH SHHHH FSSHHHH HOOOOOOFFFSSSSSHHH all night long, I don’t care, you do you.
I’ve recommended good headphones before, but it behooves (as above) offering ones that CANCEL OUT THE ENDLESS NOISE OF THE STUPIDEST TIMELINE IN WHICH WE CURRENTLY EXIST. No headphones will drown them out permanently, but good ones can offer a pleasant escape temporarily for your favorite penmonkey, either while writing or while on a plane (as many of us travel semi-frequently). If you want something kinda luxe, these Sennheiser bluetooth muffs are pretty rad — though a less-expensive Sony wired version (noise isolating) can work, too. Good headphones are like a cabinet that opens to aural Narnia. Except watch out for the satyrs and their pyramid schemes.
Motherfucking Ice Cream, Motherfucker
I recommend ice cream every year, but in 2017 I have to recommend it with greater emphasis because it is entirely possible that the existence of ice cream is literally the last thing keeping us from sliding into the void. I will note, with epic delight, that Jenis Ice Cream now offers a Pint Club program, and as you know, the First Rule of Pint Club is shut up and eat the ice cream for tomorrow, we may die. I mean, you can now subscribe to ice cream. No greater subscription exists, not porn, not National Geographic, not anything. Salt and Straw also offers seasonal pint subscriptions, btw, and their ice cream is also sublime.
Washington Post Subscription
Speaking of subscriptions, paying writers is always a good thing, and if I can change my earlier statement, it is ice cream and good journalism that’s stopping us from sliding into the void, so feel free to get the writer in your life the gift of good journalism. Though it does expose them to more news, so maybe also pair it with some ice cream or whiskey just in case. I recommend WaPo for your subscription.
I initially was going to put this on here as a joke, but I actually kinda like it, so fuck it, here we are. If the Shit Hits The Fan and the End Times arrive, we should have a bag full of necessary goods like a crossbow and ice cream and like, I dunno, a hatchet? A laser pistol? I haven’t thought this through. But writers will also want a bag full of necessarily writing gear, like pens and paper and such. Throw together a literary bug-out-bag to get them out the door. Check out this cool Sendak Artist writer gear roll-up — it’s expensive but purty. I travel with a Tom Bihn bag and love it, too. Point is, get a bag, fill it with writer essentials like a cool pen you can use to maybe kill a guy and a kick-ass notebook made from actual stone, or maybe this pen that needs no ink, maybe a handgun that shoots words onto paper *receives note* okay that’s not a thing. But you can put some good slavery-free chocolate in there, too. And a probably-sadly-not-bulletproof flask. A couple good books. Some hallucinogenic mushrooms. Whatever. Get creative.
Old-School Writing Devices
Once again, old-school word processors are all-the-rage, so check out the Freewrite or the King Jim Pomera DM100, or hell, a portable typewriter, nothing electronic about it. Hell, buy a rock and some rock chisels. Get those penmonkeys to write like it was in the old days: CARVED INTO THE BEDROCK ITSELF.
Speaking Of Old School
Pencil cases, man. It’s a thing. A new, cool pencil case can go in that bug-out-bag, or maybe it’s just where your favorite writer now stores their weed ha ha I mean pencils, shut up, who said weed. LOOK AT THIS ADORABLE CORGI PENCIL CASE, OMG. Or a waxed canvas pencil case for the bug-out-bag. Or, back to Peg and Awl: this scribbler’s pouch.
Authors may be in need of a nice portable keyboard — and here is one that folds up nice and neat, like an envelope made of infinite stories.
If you’ve ever wanted to stick your finger up the ass of a famous, classical writer, well, these author finger puppets will give your penmonkey pal all the jollies. That’s right, James Joyce, I’m going to make you pay for Finnegan’s Wake. As a sidenote, you cannot stick your finger up my ass. At least not without buying me a fancy gin drink first.
Normally I try to avoid this type of writer kitsch, but my pal, BESTSELLING AUTHOR, KEVIN HEARNE, recommends these geeky bookish candles from Frostbeard Studio, so here I am, passing along that recommendation. This one just smells like Old Books, apparently. Maybe eventually they’ll make one called Impostor Syndrome and we can all breathe in its heady fumes.
I am a fan of anything that juices the ol’ story-glands, so to speak, so storytelling games earn my delight in that regard. Tall Tales is fun for your family. Dixit has a Balderdashian vibe to it. We are fans of Kodama here at the ol’ Wendighaus, fun because a story grows out of how you build a tree. Someone recommended Story Slam to me recently, too.
Or, Fuck It, Just Buy Them Some D&D, Man
It’s got Dungeons, it’s got Dragons, c’mon. More seriously, buy the writer in your life an RPG. First, it helps them understand story in different ways. Second, they get to play with dice, mmm, dice, precious fate-twisting dice. Third, it forces them to make friends. YAY FOR NEW FRANDOS.
Wait, did I just say zinc lozenges? I did. There is some evidence that zinc lozenges can help not stave off a cold, but rather, shorten a cold’s duration, and given that writers are of frail constitution and travel frequently — which puts them in contact with the rhinovirus-slathered hordes. I take Cold-Eeze with me wherever I go. I mean, not literally wherever. I’m not wandering into the men’s room with a backpack full of Cold-Eeze or anything, relax.
Weirdo Reference Books
I am nothing if not a fan of books that teach me weird stuff, and so I will recommend a few here, in the hopes you the penmonkey in your cellar also appreciates it. Atlas Obscura? Yes, please. Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve And/Or Ruin Everything? Indeed. The Wasp That Brainwashed The Caterpillar? What delight! Other Minds: The Octopus, The Sea, And The Deep Origins Of Consciousness? Super-great! (I prefer these books in physical format, hence the Indiebound links, but if you want e-book, you know where to look.)
Art Harder, Motherfucker (Mug)
Writer Subscription Boxes
Yes, there is a box where you can subscribe to pens and ink and stationary and the like. Or there’s the Meraki Literary Box, whatever the hell that is. I assume they just give you fingerbones of canonical writers, like, a bit of Chaucer here, a pinky from Mary Shelley, whatever. Or for additional mystery, there exists the Mysterious Package Company…
Speaking Of Pens
Your penmonkey pal will need a place to put ’em. Try this!
Or If You Like To Get Wood
And That’s All She Wrote
Merry Neutral Holiday to you and the penmonkey in your life. If you’ve got other cool gift ideas for us silly writer-types, drop ’em in the comments below. *waves* *gets in a rocket-powered sleigh* *reindeer are sucked into the engine and turned into reindeer chum* *blasts off on a tide of fire, blood and antler dust, all of which rain down upon you* HO HO WHA HA HA HA