The Task of Gifting

Christmas means fighting evil.

What a cool gift to someone like me who likes both Doctor Who and Calvnin & Hobbes.

I’m a writer.

I like things. I like stuff. I have a lot of stuff already.

I like things that pertain to writing and the tangential things associated with writing.

What should you get the writer in your life for a birthday, holiday, or special occasion?

Not a book on writing. Trust me. We buy those for ourselves and we’re pretty picky about who we trust when it comes to advice.

Not paper. Unless it’s a fabulous Moleskine notebook that you had to fight hordes of laser-wielding, sewer-dwelling albino alligators for. Paper is something a lot of us hoard on our own, thank you. If you want to get us paper, really think it through and make it something we wouldn’t get for ourselves either because we’re poor, cheap or are not aware of it.

Pens? Hm. Maybe. Again, I’m pretty picky about which pens I like. A nice Cross pen is always appreciated but it’s not necessarily something we’d use every day. If I had one I guarantee I’d use it to sign contracts, but probably not much else.

Damn. Are we really that hard to buy for?

Not really.

Books. Books are excellent gifts. Or gift cards with which to buy books.

And that brings up another subject: gift cards are okay but they’re pretty generic. Even one that’s specific for a store is generic. If you love your writer you should pay attention. Somehow check out his wish list on Amazon or look around his writing space to see what notes he’s left laying around to give you hints. Pay attention in conversation.

“Hey, this book looks cool.” Turns computer screen to show spouse or significant other. “It’s all about how computers are advancing.”

Spouse/significant other nods and goes back to watching TV.

Writer sighs and goes back to avoiding writing.

TV show sets are good. Doctor Who is especially popular among a lot of Confabulators and I imagine a good many of us will be Tweeting about The Snowmen when it runs on Christmas Day.

Socks. We sit for long periods when we’re writing and our feet get cold. I have a great pair of really heavy woolen socks that are too big to wear with shoes or even boots. I can put those on and stuff my feet in some house shoes and my feet will get HOT. Yeah, socks are good.

I could go on.

Anyone looking for ideas about what to get writers should talk to the writer. When they hem and haw about “I don’t know” you shouldn’t take that for an answer. Of course they know. Maybe they really want that keyboard so that they can hook up to the iPad and use that as another writing device.

Maybe they want music or headphones or something else.

What I’m saying is that don’t assume anything. Pay attention to your writer. Drag her out of the writing space and make her talk. Tell him you’re willing to spend money on him and you want to get him something he wants. Don’t let them – any of them – say “oh, just a gift card”.

Well, don’t let me tell you that.

Me? Oh, well, I like whisky. And books by other writers.

We weren’t talking about me, were we?

Jason Arnett is a storyteller living in Kansas and writing in the plains of the fantastic. Some of his work can be found at

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