Still shopping around for that perfect gift for all the authors in your life? (Hey, that could be you.) MediaBistro just published a list of primo gifts for writers, and I wholeheartedly agree with most of them. The Writer’s Block wine I can vouch for personally, because I wrote the label copy for their captivating Zin (Walk the Wine called it “a silly but impassioned little story,” which I’m deciding to take as a compliment). I’d be more specific about the digital recorder, and say that the super-sleek Olympus model I was given two years ago is still worth its light weight in gold to capture sudden inspirations and memorable interviews, especially with the add-on microphone. I’ve dropped it more times than I like to admit in my silly but impassioned moments, and still it keeps working for me. Awww. Does take a lot of batteries though.
Personally I would subtract from this list the noise-canceling headphones, because a modest amount of noise actually helps me concentrate, especially the sound of an espresso machine (and yes, I realize that makes me the writing equivalent of Pavlov’s dog). I’d also nix the paper shredder, because it’s like that time my Great Aunt Janet gave me a hairbrush for a birthday present: since it’s kind of obligatory, where’s the excitement? (And what was she implying about my hair??)
Instead of those two gadgets, I’d recommend two handy tools for writing: Dianne Jacob’s Will Write for Food and Patricia O’Conner’s Words Fail Me. Jacob’s book gives some fantastic pointers on writing with all five senses, and it’s especially useful if you’re working on a cookbook. Giving a writer a primer on word selection may seem like giving an engineer Beginning Programming for Dummies, but O’Conner is far too funny and sharp to be obvious. She knows all about those cringing moments everyone gets over some grammatical horror glimpsed in a Sent Email folder, and she’s out to stop us before we cringe again.
Got any hot tips for holiday gifts? Do tell…