ONCE AGAIN, THE HOLIDAYS ARE UPON US. And once again the non-writers are wondering, hey, what the sweet hot hell do I get a writer for these gift-giving days? Writers, after all, are a squirrelly lot. What do they need? A box of ideas? Infinite pens? A little Chuck Wendig homunculus who perches on their shoulder and shrieks at them to write, write, write you slugabed motherfucker, write?
Surely we can come up with better ideas than those.
(Plus, we’re all sold out of the Wendig Homunculi.)
And so here, my friends, is the GIFTS FOR WRITERS, 2018.
*poses on fist with a serious look in a proper author photo*
Utter Shamelessness, Don’t You Judge Me
Did you know I wrote a book? It’s called Damn Fine Story and it’s amazing okay I don’t know that it’s amazing, but I was told to project confidence, so here we are. More seriously, the goal of the book is to help you understand the fiddly, tinkery, tinkly bits of storytelling. It isn’t a book about writing, but about storytelling in all its forms. And it contains a sassy, masturbatory elk. No other book has that. This is a value. Get it in print or eBook. And now, audio!
Everyone needs a mug.
You can put all kinds of things in a mug.
Whiskey. Coffee. Whiskey and coffee. Ice cream. The soul of a cherished foe.
The Art Harder, Motherfucker mug is a popular choice.
[Note too on the mugs: coupon code CYBRWEEKZAZZ gets you 40% off. And now that I read that I’m pretty sure that says CYBER WEEK ASS except AZZ for ASS because that’s maybe how a robot would say it? A cyber robot? Hm.]
Shamelessness is now over. Onward, we go.
My very good friend Aaron Mahnke turned me on (imagine if I just put a period there and left the sentence) to Best Made Company, which offers some very cool things, like, for instance, this bad-ass Field Desk. It’s also, um, just shy of two thousand dollars? So, this is definitely one for you one-percenters out there. But it’s so damn sexy, and the writer in your life will love you forever.
Okay fine, they have other cool stuff, too —
And if you still dig the idea of a portable writing desk but don’t wanna shell out two grand, maybe two hundred will do you a little better — this one is significantly cheaper, but still does the trick.
And if you just want a cheap-ass pen to get for an author’s stocking stuffer: this little 3/1 (three colors, one pencil) jobby gets you maximum value, and it’s great for a writer as they’re doing edits — you got red, blue, black, and a pencil point for various purposes, like crossing stuff out, adding new bits, or just screaming profanity in the margins.
We Don’t Need Notebooks, But Okay Maybe What About This One?
Jesus Christ on a crumbcake, writers receive wayyyyy too many notebooks for the gift-giving holidays. We don’t need more. Stop getting us more. Except — except —
Here is why I like this notebook:
It’s like how we wrote stories in grade school! You get the text portion below, but you also get a glorious imagination window at the top, which can be a drawing or a doodle or some mind-mapping or a character portrait or whatfuckingever you wanna put there.
Baron Fig also has cool desk pads.
Okay, no, you sadly cannot give Nick Offerman as a gift.
If you could, I would already have him, you bastards.
But! You can give a piece of him. Sorta. By which I mean —
Consider: this cool interactive art piece. A writer often needs to fiddle with things at their desk to work off nervous energy and parse difficult story snidbits, so try that. Or, a cool pen-and-pencil holder. For a bonus: both of these count as (snicker, tee-hee) writer’s blocks. Get it! Like writer’s block?
Also, there’s his book, Paddle Your Own Canoe, which is not really at all about writing but is, in its own way, very much about writing — about the struggle to Art Harder and in your own way. Worth getting for a writer pal. Check it in print or eBook.
I have long relied upon games to kind of loosen up the ol’ BRAIN GRAVEL, kicking it into scree with the help of fun imagination exercises.
You may find some joy from:
Or, John August’s new one, AlphaBirds, which is kind of a fast-paced, Scrabble-esque card game.
Writers are not good at self-care.
So you need to sometimes give us a little nudge.
Consider: a light therapy (SAD) lamp.
Consider: a weighted blanket. (Pro-tip, start at 15 lbs.)
Also: just force us to go somewhere with you. A meal. A small trip. Anything. Get us out of the house and out of our heads. It’s a win for everybody.
Also: Caffeine, Motherfucker, Do You Speak It
Not every writer dunks themselves in a caffeinated bacta tank every morning, but I figure a good number of us enjoy a cup or twelve, so coffee and tea ain’t the worst way to go when finding a good gift for a writer buddy. Tonx, which I used to love before they got bought by the execrable Blue Bottle, has a new service out called YES PLZ COFFEE, which is a subscription dealy-o. Then there’s Trade Coffee, which is kind of a roaster aggregator — lets you discover new roasters. I currently use and enjoy the hell out of Angel’s Cup — a subscription which sends you four blind bags of coffee and then you open them and try them and it’s like a CAROUSEL OF COFFEE DELICIOUSNESS every week or two, and you get to be surprised every time.
Fill Their Brains With Information
I am never not a fan of great non-fiction.
It is arguably a thing I read now more than I do fiction — in part because I’m always doing research, and in part because non-fiction gives me new ideas, but fiction gives me someone else’s ideas.
Here’s a book I just read that I loved:
And you also have the option of buying classes for your penmonkey buddies. MasterClasses are available, including a new one from Margaret Atwood, who is of course your queen and wisely, you will kneel. I SAID KNEEL, RAPSCALLION.
Buy Their Books, Leave Reviews
There may be no greater gift than that, I think: buy their stories, and leave reviews. Tell your friends, tell your enemies. Help us climb out of the oubliette of obscurity. For instance (puts self-promotional top hat back on) did you know I ALSO WRITE BOOKS and you can find them IN PRINT and IN THE ELEMTRAMIC BOOK DEVICES, yep, wow, whoa. It’s true, it’s true, I heard it from the newsie on the street corner, extree, extree, read all the fuck about it.
For a bonus: buy them a session with a portrait photographer for a proper author photo.
Previous Lists From Former Authorial Eras
And that’s it.
I hope I’ve helped you help a writer. Happy holidays, word-nerds.