So, let's say you're a little strapped for cash this holiday season (I can hear all the grunts and moans of agreement out there - who isn't strapped this year?). Further, let's say you have some writer friends on your list, and you don't know what to get them. That you may, in fact, be considering telling everyone you know that this year, you're moving to a monastery in Zimbabwe and giving up all material considerations and attempts at communication, rather than go through the humiliation of having nothing to give.
Fear not! For the writers in your life, at least, you can offer them something special that also happens to be cheap (and when I say 'cheap', I mean 'free'). If you're reading this post, you already have everything you need: an internet connection.
Herewith, S.W. Vaughn's List of Super-Cheap, Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas for Writers!
* Compose an ode to the writer's greatness and post it in a public location, such as a blog or message forum. Then, e-mail the writer a link to said ode. It doesn't have to be particularly literary, or even spelled correctly. The writer will appreciate the sentiment.
Need an example? Here's one:
I know three writers who blog
With a fourth, whose head is in fog
But these guys are the best
Above all the rest
And forgive the fourth the occasional lapse in participation coupled with the loss of ability to produce writing, or even rhyme the last line of a dumb poem
(Er, I mean 'frog')
* E-mail the writer a list of things that you like about them as a person, and link each item on the list to writing. For example: 'You always remember my birthday - so you must never have any dropped plot threads in your books!'
* Choose a length of time (one week, one month, one year) and promise during that time to always refer to the writer as 'Writer Name, the Magnificent and Exalted Wordsmith' or a similar grandiose title. This includes all written and spoken communication.
* Offer to read something the writer has written. Actually read it, within a reasonable time frame (note that a year is NOT reasonable). When you are finished reading it, offer your honest and thoughtfully considered feedback. Please note that if you think said writing is a pile of steaming cow dung, say so . . . but gently, and make sure to include something positive with your feedback. Trust me, the writer will eventually thank you for it (if not right away).
* Simply say to the writer, 'I love your work. Have you written anything lately? Tell me about it!' Then, when the writer starts telling you about it - actually listen and show interest, without letting your eyes (or fingers, if you're communicating online) glaze over. Writers love talking with interested parties about their work.
None of these gifts will cost you anything except time, and any writer on your list will appreciate them. So give freely (and I do mean free! Isn't that a great word?) this holiday season, and may you also be blessed with such gifts for yourself.