Christmas is 12 days away, which ought to prompt me to some kind of ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ doggerel, but honestly. I like you all too much to subject you to such dire yuletide whims. (I did once rewrite The Night Before Christmas, with our cat Petra in the leading role, and if my doggerel amnesty fails, I’ll subject you to that at a later date.)
The organised amongst you will have completed your Christmas shopping, while the rest of us are in the process of staring, aghast, at the calendar and wailing OH MY GOD, NO, I’M NOT READY, I’M NOT READY, I WILL NEVER BE READY!
I can’t do much to help you with that, I’m afraid, except offer a few suggestions of what you might get for the writer in your life. It breaks down into two categories: time and stuff.
If the writer in your life is anything like me, the thing they need most of is time. Time to write. Time to plan. Time to just sit and think and think and think in an attempt to sort out that plot point that simply will not resolve itself in five minute snatches of contemplation over a cup of tea. If the writer in your life is a parent, and has a lot of household responsibilities as well, a little alone time for thinking is especially precious.
Some years ago, my dear friend Jehni and I arranged to take our mutual dear friend, Yvon, away for a weekend for her birthday. We went to a farm stay, a long way away from shops, cinemas or any other distractions. Meals were included, and we could look at the cows until they came home, if that was our desire. I think we puzzled the host family a little by essentially just bedding down in the guest section of the house and writing for three days. Yvon, who normally supported her husband’s business in the office as well as taking care of the home and feeding the family, had three clear days in which she didn’t even have to do the dishes. She wrote up a storm. Jehni and I weren’t too slack either.
Okay, so maybe this Christmas it’s not possible to give your writer honey three clear days without other responsibilities, but you can find other ways to gift them time. Perhaps you can offer a standing arrangement one night a week that you make dinner, do the chores and the running around, all those things, while they lock the door to their office and get five straight hours of writing done. Maybe you can take on breakfast duties and give them an extra half hour every morning. Perhaps you can come up with the cash and the time to send them off on a writer’s retreat after all.
Talk to them first, of course, to find out how best to arrange such time so that they can make the most of it. You’ll probably come up with some other useful ways to help your cherished writer find more time for their craft. It may seem intangible, but the results will be words on pages, and a happier honey.
It’s possible, however, that the writer in your life is already managing their time well, or that it really isn’t possible to gift them extra time in some way. Never fear – there is always fabulous writerly STUFF to be had!
The Sentence First shop sells T-shirts and cups based on wordplay, including the delicious “Inventing words is squingulously efflumberant”.
The Literary Gift Company has always been a favourite, too, with its quotable chocolate bars, word-related jewellery, and even author-themed gifts (here’s an amusing collection of items related to Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle/Sherlock Holmes and Jane Austen. The Literary Ties are pretty neat too.
Of course, there are also the stationery standbys, like Smiggle, Kikki K and Typo. Those are good if you’re worried that an online purchase won’t reach you in time, as there are plenty of Real World™ stores to find.
So good luck with your shopping, and with your writing – and whatever the festive season brings (and however you celebrate it, or not) let your new year bring you inspiration, free WiFi and all the right words in the right order.
Narrelle M Harris is a Melbourne-based writer. Find out more about her books, iPhone apps, public speaking and other activities at www.narrellemharris.com.