Why Oh Why Oh Why Oh Why for the love of Christmas am I churning out this trite “What To Buy Your Weird Writer Friend For The Holidays” blahg that populates every nook and cranny of the blog-o-sphere this week? Because if I don’t, a black, windowless van will pull up to my place, then three will men get out, kick down my door and storm inside. Two of them will rough me up, push me to the floor and stand on my neck while the third spray paints filthy epithets all over my walls. Then they will jam my fear-soiled underpants into the paper shredder and leave. That’s why. Lotta people don’t know that. Dangerous business, writing.
Also, because I’m trying to dispel the myth that writers have friends. OH SNAP!
Actually, it’s to say this: It is no harder to shop for a writer than any other person. We’re just like everybody else in your life. By everybody, I naturally mean everybody who screams, “WHAT NOW?! DIDN’T I TALK TO YOU A YEAR AGO FOR PETE’S SAKE?” into the phone, then sobs like an Irish widow when you call to ensure they are, in fact, still breathing.
AND i’m hoping someone will read this and actually get me some of this stuff. No pressure. Because that fact of the matter is, we do have special needs.
So here it is, without any further ado:
1. Amazon Gift Cards – It’s like flinging open the doors of the giant gift shop in the center of the universe and saying, “Anything you want, it’s on me, friend! Go crazy!” Who wouldn’t want that? Communists. That’s who.
2. iTunes Gift Cards – Many writers, including myself, listen to music while we write to help lube the sweaty, straining folds of our minds…and to minimize the chafing. It’s Pitocin for our pregnant brains; it speeds the delivery of our precious, pink-faced word babies onto the page.
3. An Outing – Any writer worth a damn has to be pried from their chair using the jaws of life. If you happen to know one of these types, give them the gift that gets them out and into the (gasp!) sunlight so that they can briefly experience the real world. Art is a feature of life, not the other way around. So do your favorite word-fondling friend a solid and take them someplace they’ve never been before to do something they’ll probably never do again. Kayaking. Horseback riding. Snorkeling. Painting. Fly fishing. Bird watching. Moose flipping. Whatever.
4. Offer To Read Something + Dinner and Feedback – Especially if they are just starting out. Wait, what? Reading your friends stuff is akin to jabbing two dull pencils into your eyes? Okay. But think about it. Sure, they may suck now, but what happens in a couple of years when your writer friend doesn’t suck anymore and publishes “Larry Potter and the 50 Shades of Zombie-X-Men-Vampire-Frozen-Princess-Wizards” and it sells a zillion kajillion copies? Who are they gonna remember? You. Before you give feedback, however, you gotta learn how to do it right. Build a crap sandwich. “Loved the midget serial killer idea! The plot moves like a constipated sloth, but the dialogue is snappy!!” THAT is how you build a crap sandwich. Be honest, but don’t be a douche.
5. Babysitting Services – Again. Jabbing. Eyes. Dull pencils. Not everyone loves kids, so don’t offer this unless you really enjoy them. I don’t have kids, but I know writers who do; writers who would cut out their own spleens for a chance to have a few hours of uninterrupted writing time. Make it productive and fun for everyone involved. Take the little knee-biters to a movie, the zoo, a museum, the racetrack even. What kid doesn’t want to learn how to read a Scratch Sheet? It’ll give em hours of Show-n-Tell material!
7. (See Above)
8. Their Favorite Coffee/Tea – Just in case the liquor store burns down.
9. Office Supply Gift Cards – Because ink costs a bundle. So do portable external hard drives, which every writer should be using to back up their stuff unless they can afford to hire a Burmese monk with a photographic memory to speed-read their work every fifteen minutes.
10. Weird Books…like The Dictionary of Imaginary Places: The Newly Updated and Expanded Classic or Weird History 101 or The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten . Most writers love this kind of stuff. It’s a great way for us to pretend like we’re goofing off, but in actuality we are absorbing bizarre information that will somehow come in handy when we start working on that Larry Potter novel.
Ho ho ho and Fa la la.