Writers don’t want for much you know. A quiet space. A few books. Time to think. Wine. Hoards of chocolate. An award or two.
Writing is our gift. It takes us abroad. It introduces us to the most interesting characters you’ll ever meet. It makes us rich. In our minds; all in our minds.
So we’re not a materialistic lot. BUT, (there’s always a but) that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t appreciate a small gift or two. Especially in the festive season. Or at any other time of the year. And if you can’t send a few writing competition prizes our way, or you know, a seven figure book deal, then these might do instead.
1. Writing Course Vouchers
Writing is a craft. It is learned. Sure, the talent might be there, but it must be nurtured. Most writers at some stage will turn to professional help, to get started, improve or become advanced in what they do. There are many courses available either at writers’ centres, online or run by publishing houses or agencies. Gifting a writer a voucher allows them to choose the course that suits them at their own particular stage of development. It may also allow a writer to try other forms of writing outside of their norm, like script writing, poetry or memoir.
2. Fancy Notebook
Stationery makes me go weak in the knee joints. I would happily sleep with a beautifully bound notebook, every night. That cover. Those pages. The line breaks! A notebook has to be a gift though really. Writers are usually too poor to go frivolously buying up paper. At the start of my book research, while on maternity leave and living on beans I bought a Virginia Woolf covered Paper Blanks notebook. I hid the receipt from himself but I clutched it with me everywhere I went. A nice notebook is more likely to get filled with, well, notes. Like a mushy cream bun that screams EAT ME, a beautifully bound notebook cries SCRIBBLE ON ME!
3. Expensive looking pen
Nothing shouts ‘writer’ more than a diamante studded, gold plated squirty cavier fish-egg ink pen. Between your teeth. At a conference. Again, it should be a gift. And refillable. Top of the pile is of course, a Parker Pen. But have you seen Cross Pens? Fabulous. I own a Swarovski pen, gifted to me on a birthday some years back. The only pens that won’t work are the ones with shuddery little fur men on top. Unless you’re 12.
4. Laptop Charger
Both I and the guy work off Apple Macs. Mac chargers are not the most reliable. We lost two in the space of two weeks and at €89 a piece to replace, there was much clips, pegs and sellotape as a shoddy repair. You can read about how I sent off a competition entry with my charger burning a hole in my finger here. We couldn’t afford to go out and replace two chargers, so if you know what the writer in your life works off, buy them a back-up and save the stress. Luckily PC replacement chargers are much cheaper. (Because Apple is a really poor company and needs to make more profits.)
5. Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook
Bible. It is a BIBLE. Most people buy this book for all the golden contacts it contains. I buy it (like Playboy) to read the articles. Seriously though, it’s packed full of useful information for writers, all in a really nice tone. You’ll find chapters such as inspirational writers, societies, prizes and festivals, resources for writers and copyright and libel as well as all the cherished agency and publishing houses contacts. It’s released in July each year with the most up to date info.
6. Mouse Mat
Like the Golden Pages, the trusty mouse and mouse mat seem to have fallen down the big black ‘technology left me behind’ hole. It’s true, any writer can sit on their laptop and stomp out a bestseller using only the keys and the business card size of a mouse pad. But I can’t. I must use a mouse when on the computer and I bet there are other traditionalists out there too. Usually the mouse floats on the sofa or on the laptop itself or any surface I can get a bit of a grip on. Now that I have a new desk set up, I really need a nice mouse mat. With something inspirational on it. No cityscapes please.
7. A giant mug
Breaks are to the writer what drink is to the alcoholic. Necessary. Stress-relieving. Writer / drinker may get angry if break / drink denied to writer / drinker. (Word interchangeable). Small cups don’t cut it. We need buckets. Gallons of the stuff. So whether the cow pail is filled with tea / coffee or wine, gift your loved one the freedom of not having to return to the kitchen to fill up. And feeling greedy.
8. Book tokens
I love the term book tokens. It’s so old-fashioned. You wouldn’t use it for any other voucher system. What did you get for Christmas? River Island tokens? Ticket tokens? Tokens are for cutting out of cardboard cornflakes boxes. Or shoving in amusement machines on your holidays in Butlins. But they get you books too and there’s nothing a writer loves more than disappearing into a book shop and buying up the place. Bliss.
9. Magazine subscription
This year I’ve really enjoyed reading writing magazines. They’ve given me inspiration, highlighted interesting competitions and helped me to feel connected to others of the same ilk. I don’t live in the sticks, but I have found it difficult to get hold of these quite niche magazines. A year’s subscription to a good writing magazine costs between €25 and €100 depending on whether you choose online subscription or print. I like:
10. A Book Deal.
Or if you can’t provide that a few prayers to help one on the way to a book deal / further sales. And a shoulder to snot on when another rejection comes back. And agreement that your character, your personality and a take on your name may appear in some of our work. Royalty free. Because we’re good like that. Writers are very giving people. We gift the world our work, our prose, our hearts. Be gentle with us. (And a few quid in a card never hurt anyone either. If you’re still stuck like).
What would you add to this list of writing gifts? Any plans to buy yourself a gift? (Go on, you deserve it).