What do you give a writer for Christmas? There are, after all, only so many pens we can use, and anyway many of us write on computers now. I always write first drafts of poetry longhand, and keep notes of lines I’ve thought up in one or another of several peripatetic notebooks, but, even so, there are also only so many notebooks I can keep track of.
Here are some suggestions; I’m sure you’ll find something here for almost any writer – the question is only how to wrap it.
1 – A bulldozer
Handy for clearing writer’s blocks. Comes in construction yellow so it’s difficult to misplace.
2 – IV bag and stand and a pound of double espresso
When deadlines loom, who has time to drink coffee? This setup allows a writer to make up the whole pound ahead, seal it in IV bags and mainline it at the moment of crisis
3 – A cat.
Some writers love cats. The cat will soothe them. Some hate cats. The cat will annoy them and create that existential angst so important in the writing life. Some are indifferent, in which case how is a cat any worse than a puce-and-persimmon necktie? Okay, the necktie doesn’t need a litter box, but nobody expects you to wear the cat out in public.
4 – A fake hearing aid
For emergency use. When someone says, “You’re a writer, eh? I’ve got this great story you should write….” the writer can pretend the batteries in the hearing aid have died.
5 – Dictionary
What? Doesn’t every writer need a dictionary? Can there be too many dictionaries? You’re talking to the dictionary queen here. Trust me – any writer will thank you for a dictionary. No, really.
6 – A patron
They used to have these in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Somebody rich has a stable of kept artists to make him whatever he wants to have. “Yo, writer! I’m in need of a novel – something sweeping and grandiose, vast panoramas, wild passions, yada, yada. Here’s ten thousand to start with. Can you have it done a week Thursday?”
Okay, I can see this gift wouldn’t appeal to all. Also it’s on the pricey side – more the sort of thing the whole family would have to go together on.
7 – A quirk
This is more of a do-it-yourself gift, but you could supply a series of suggestions and sample quirks. Tom Wolfe, for example, always wore a white suit because he said it was easier than developing a personality. Bon Jovi wants the brown M & Ms picked out of the bowl. Stuff like that.
8 – A Muse
Every writer needs one. Find out what your writer wants in a muse. Ask questions, take notes, then scout the malls. This is a gift that requires thought and care, but endures for years. I’ve had my Muse now – although he calls himself my Amuse – for twenty-seven years. There’s still a good bit of tread on the tires.
What do I want in my stocking? Oh, the aforesaid Amuse will do. And a Terry’s orange. Merry Christmas.