clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Holiday Gifts for Writers

At left, one of the best gifts for a writer: an alarm to place across the room on the dresser forcing the penmonkey to rise and write.

Public domain image hosted on wikicommons.

Nobody asks me about "what I should I get Rick the writer in my life for Christmas/Chanukah/ Kwanza/Festivus/Art Gidding's Favortie Day ?"

I thought I'd take it upon myself to share some unsought advice.

The clock/radio. Not just a clock. Not just a radio. The vintage flip face is a lovely feature. I had one of these for twenty years though of a slightly older model. The one pictured is from 1975. Out of bed and at the ink.

"But they have an iPhone and it has alarms ..." Ah, yes.

The iPhone does not however have vintage appeal nor does it force penmonkey out of bed to write. This gift with an inspirational note (say something like:  "I love your prose. This gift will help you to find time in the morning to craft more of it.") will do the job.

Some of us write best in the night. I'm one of those.  I edit and re-write best in the early morning. Yea, I know. Nothing about the ink game is easy or especially fun -- except the "having written" part.

George Gastin's great picture of a ewe at left. I couldn't find a public domain picture of a cardigan I liked but you've all seen sweaters.

This is the source of the sweater. Just add a great deal of labor and baaaa: a sweater.

Writers tend to work in laundry rooms, converted closets, the garage, the unheated attic overhead, and unfinished storage areas in the basement. There's a lot of cold and damp in this sport. (There's a lot of hollering out "can you put those in the dryer when they're done?" too).

A sweater is nice.

A cup of coffee. The image at left is from on wikicommons. Lovely snap.

A plain mug is best for writers. "Distraction free."

The plate is a nice companion piece because we are prone to incidental spillage. I'd make some sort of Mae West joke here but the children wouldn't get it.

A bag of beans is also a lovely gift. I don't know what it is about coffee and writing; but, there's something about coffee and writing.

I'm drinking a cup (decaf) now.

Poulpy took this photo at left. Especially nice photograph of an ink bottle. I'm told in the caption the ink is green.

All writers have pens. They have lots of pens. They're pretty particular about those pens, too.

Ink however is more of a cultured acquisition. A nice ink is always a lovely, thoughtful gift. Most of us have at least one decent fountain pen hiding about the library. Some have -- er -- more than one.

J. Hebin makes some lovely ink. Make sure you pick an ink that has good contrast on the page. Even editing where the text is already in printed form and our marks are just annotation demands a good contrast because inevitably we'll be working on the manuscript notes in dim light sometime soon and cursing the light grey ink. Green is nice. Red is trite.

Avoid red. Please.

Oh - water soluble ink, only. No one likes to have to clean a pen with Xylene because the ink dried.

Consumables. Preferably, consumables with class.

Madeleines as photographed by Evan Shelhamer and hosted on wikicommons. Blackberry madeleines, precisely.

Now, Proust was a pedantic bastard but he had the whole madeleines business down pat.

Cookies are a fair substitute.

Writing is a soul-trying activity and demands proper sustenance.  A tasty baked good from your own hand? Best gift of all.

So, while we can be complete bastards to live with, writers are remarkably easy individuals when it comes to the gift giving season.

One last caution:

Not a cat. God, no, please ... not a cat.

Public domain image at left.

If you want a demon to torment your writer through unwelcome jumping, demands for attention, the odd yowling, and the ever popular "something breaking from the other room" then please -- a cat is fine.

I've had one on and off my lap three times while writing this entry. The foxhound is asleep on his pillow just to my left but the cat? All over me.

No live animal gifts.

Maybe no dead ones, either. (public domain image of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" of Baker Street, London.)

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