Last, First Books of the Year

I fell into a ritual a few years ago, without realizing I was doing so, and it’s grown to be something important to me.

The ritual is making a conscious choice for the last book and the first book I purchase each year.

Ideally, I’d purchase the last book on the 31st and the first on the 1st or 2nd, but that’s not always a viable option.

This year, I’m going to purchase the last book on the 29th – and the possibilities are delicious. What does the choice of book mean? Do I choose a book by someone with whom I’m acquainted, to set the stage in supporting a colleague? Do I pick a book that’s intrigued me, but I’ve never “gotten around” to buying it?

And the first book of the year – it sets the tone of the year. What do I want this year to be? Will it be a book about writing? Will it be a biography of someone I admire? Will it be a delightful novel to set the bar high for my own work?

Think about what you buy, when you buy it, and why you buy it. Creating a ritual for the first and last books of the year could turn into a mindful and happy tradition.

(Note: This post was originally published on December 28, 2006 at the Blogger Version of A Biblio Paradise).

Gift Ideas For Writers

What do you get the writer on your list? That’s always a dilemma, especially for our loved ones who have no idea what we actually do for a living.

Here are some ideas you can print out and hand to those perplexed dear ones, giving them some ideas to relieve their stress during the season. This can also give you some ideas for the other writers on your list:

Gift Cards. A couple of years ago, gift cards were all the rage; now, “style gurus” are starting to sniff and look down their recently upgraded noses at them. But a gift card is a great way to let the writer pick what he or she needs. Some great gift card sources: Staples, Borders, B&N, any bookstore that will give you a certificate, Starbucks, a high quality paper store, restaurants, Jet Blue (yes, they do have gift certificates), a music store, or the local yoga studio (if the person is into yoga. Be very careful about giving someone fitness stuff for the holidays unless you know they want it. Otherwise, the person will wonder if you think she’s fat). Note that I left Amazon off the list – since they’ve twice now held my materials hostage, wanting me to pay higher shipping costs than originally quoted, they are no longer on my list.

Mixed CDs. Do you know what kind of music your writer uses as background for writing? Mix a CD especially geared towards the writer’s interests. It’s a personal gift, and will be appreciated. My MP3 player can record directly from my CD player, so if I want to, I can add it to my play list in addition to having it at home on the machine.

Baskets of Coffee, Tea, Hot Chocolate, fruit, cheese, chocolate. Geared to your writer’s taste, of course. The small sizes in the gift baskets are great for noshing during marathon writing sessions.

Museum membership. Writers need to get out of the house sometimes, and a museum is a great source of inspiration. It doesn’t have to be an expensive city museum. Most towns or universities have local museums with frequently changing exhibits at a reasonable price.

Stamps. In spite of so much online submission, there are still places that only accept snail mail. And that adds up.

Bookmarks. Most writers I know use multiple books at a time, whether it’s for research or pleasure. There are never enough bookmarks around.

Socks. Some people will shudder with horror at this one, but if you’re sitting at your desk writing for long stretches, your feet can get cold. Unless you have a dog willing to sit there and be your foot warmer, socks are a safer option than the electric heater.

Soap. Because sometimes we’re so into our work, we forget to shower.

Paper. A couple of reams of paper might not seem romantic, but when you’re on deadline at 2 AM, it’s snowing outside, and you run out of paper, that spare ream is a godsend.

Ink cartridges, See above.

Photo albums. So now I have a digital camera that takes gorgeous photos. And I print them out and they sit around in boxes because I never “get around” to buying a photo album. Frames are good, too, if you know of a particular print that inspires your writer. There’s nothing better than getting stuck in the middle of a sentence and looking up to see my favorite photo or picture above my desk.

Lamps/light bulbs. The right lighting can make or break a writing session. A lamp that’s fun as well as functional is even better.

Calendars. No matter how much all this is electonicized, some days the power goes out, the battery dies, and you need to have it written down elsewhere. I have all sorts of calendars – one enormous desk blotter type will all my deadlines, the Llewellyn calendar for which I write for the astrological correspondences, the purse calendar so as things come up on the go, I write them down. I sit down every few days to make sure all three are coordinated.

Blank books. As plain or fancy as you want, writers need notebooks in all shapes and styles to jot down ideas. From purse size to sketchpad size, they’re important.

Other Books. Most writers (the good ones anyway) read incessantly. They love to receive books. A beautifully bound copy of a favorite book is always appreciated, as are books on writing and inspiration. Your local independent bookseller can help you.

Pens. A writer can never have too many pens, and it’s Murphy’s Law that whatever pen you pull out of your bag will run dry at the crucial moment.

A Day. You can make this kind of certificate. Give your favorite writer the gift of a day. You will take over all the person’s normal chores/activities, and the writer can do anything he or she wants, even if it’s not writing related. Time is such a precious commodity, and writers have to fight for it much harder than anyone else.

The best gift you can give your writer is your unwavering love and support. Writing is like living with many voices inside one’s head, walking between worlds, and juggling multiple planes of existence. Letting your writer know you love them, even if you don’t always understand them, is the best gift possible.

(Note: This entry was originally published on December 16, 2006 on the Blogger Version of A Biblio Paradise)