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About Writing and Holidays and Gifts--oh my!
by E.C. Bell
But I realized that I don’t often give good suggestions when those same people ask me what I’d like for Christmas. That made me wonder about all the other families of writers. Do they have the same problem as mine? Quite possibly.
So, here’s my Christmas gift to all you lovely people who are involved in the care and feeding of a writer. The five or so best gifts to get the writer in your life (in no particular order).
(And if you are a writer, just print off this list, circle the gift you want and give it to your loving family. They’ll appreciate it, trust me.)
A room of her own.
All right, now this seems like a big one, but having space to write is vital. So, if your writer doesn’t have an office, check everywhere and see if there is a spot that can be set up as a “room of her own.” I believe Stephen King wrote in a furnace room for a while--so, hey, that might be the place to start looking. Wherever the space is, though, make certain that the door (and there must be a door) can be closed, if not locked. Because as much as we love you, writers need a space where they can be alone to create. (Cats and dogs don’t count, of course. For one thing, it’s impossible to keep either a cat or a dog out of a room if they really want in, and besides--Aww! A puppy on your lap! How sweet is that?)
Time to herself.
This goes hand in hand with the “having a room” gift. As much as you want to show her the “real cool thing I found on the internet, it will only take a minute,” don’t. If the door is closed, leave her be. She’ll come out when she’s hungry--or when you’re hungry. (It’s funny how writers transform back into moms and/or wives when that door opens.) And as helpful as you think you are being, don’t knock on the door every ten minutes to ask “How’s it going?” She’ll tell you, later. But give her some time, so she can create.
“How can I give time as a Christmas gift?” you may ask. Well, remember way back in primary school, when you made “coupons” for your parents for father’s or mother’s day? “This coupon is worth one hug”, or “one joke,” or whatever? How about making a bunch of those for your writer? “I won’t bug you until 4 pm, every day.” “Don’t worry, I’ll make dinner.” Or the always wonderful, “You don’t have to do the laundry this week. I got it.” Costs you next to nothing, and believe me, your writer will love them!
A lot of the type of pens she likes.
All right, this might be just me, but I have a certain type of pen I prefer to write with. It’s not expensive, but I’m absolutely certain that someday--someday soon--that particular brand won’t be made anymore. So... I hoard them. Boxes of them. (I can’t be the only one!) So, find out what kind of writing instrument your writer likes and buy a box.
When she tells you the type, don’t say, “Oh, those are so cheap, why don’t you try this kind?” because you are not being helpful. Just get her a box of whatever she likes, slap a bow on it, and thank the gods of writing that she didn’t ask for a box of the S.T. Dupont James Bond Spectre Fountain pens (a thousand pounds each at Harrods, just so you know).
Paper -- preferably in legal sized pads. (Yellow IS the best, but whatever.)
I know. Paper. How passe. Here’s the thing, though. Writers sometimes need to physically write. On paper. So, find out the kind she likes, and get her a lot of it. Personally, I like yellow legal sized pads of paper. Why yellow? Because it’s cheap and cheerful. (Not necessarily in that order) I buy them by the gross, so I always have them on hand. (There is nothing worse than having that “great idea” and having to scribble it down on the back of a to do list or a grocery store receipt. Seriously.)
A variation on the paper theme--Post It notes. Get them in various sizes, and in different colours. Most writers I know LOVE Post-It notes.
Writing clothes. (In other words, pajamas and sweaters)
All right, so maybe the pajama and sweater thing is just me (again). I remember when I first started writing seriously, I imagined myself sitting at a perfectly clean desk (ha!) and writing while wearing a flowing lace dress (HA!). The reality? Not so much. What I wear, always, are pajama pants and an ugly, baggy, sweater. (In the winter I wear thick socks, too, but they aren’t required year round, so I won’t add them as absolutely necessary.) So, find the ugliest, baggiest sweater you can--no, wait, that would be for me. For everyone else, ask your writer what she likes to wear when she’s writing, and then riff on that theme. (Honestly, though. The uglier and baggier, the better!)
What happened to alcohol? (Don’t all writers drink???)
You’ll notice I didn’t add any beverages to this list, but if none of the above suit your fancy, then beverages will have to do. Make sure you ask what your writer likes, though, because, trust me. If your writer has a favourite type of pen (for heaven’s sake), she is probably pretty picky about her choice of drink, too! (Just sayin’.)
What? No electronics?
Nope. Most writers I know own every electronic gadget known to man already. They don’t need more gadgets. They need to write.
Hope this helps, and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season with your favourite writer!
Eileen (E.C.) Bell’s debut paranormal mystery novel Seeing the Light (2014) won the BPAA award for Best Speculative Fiction Book of the Year and was shortlisted for the Bony Blythe Award for Light Mystery. The second book in the series, Drowning in Amber, was released into the wild at the end of October, 2015. Her short fiction includes the Aurora Award winning Women of the Apocalypse and The Puzzle Box. When she’s not writing, she’s living a fine life in her round house with her husband and two dogs.
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