Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Gift of Writing

On a writing trip with the lovely and talented Amy Rivers
At this particular time of the year, many of us are thinking about what we might give family and friends for the holidays. 

What would they most like? What will provide the greatest measure of joy? 

My original blog was primarily a list of clever gifts for fellow writers. For those of you looking for that, I’ll post links at the bottom of the page. 

It goes without saying that the number one gift you can give to writing friends is threefold: 
1.) Buy their books 2.) Review their books 3.) Be an understanding and supportive friend. 

But I kept returning to the idea that writers have the capacity to deliver on a grander scale—through our creativity, our research, our characters and what they represent, and our advocacy through social media. Our followers care what we think about literary trends, but they also pay attention to what we have to say about social justice. 

We have an influence we can choose to exercise—to bring this divided world a little closer. 

Northern Colorado Writers has long sought to create a space where writers of all genres can cultivate their skills and improve their craft. As member liaison, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a number of local authors in 2017 and to get to know the passions they bring to the page. 

NCWers are rising to the challenge when it comes to addressing important topics. Collectively, we write about the grieving process and address the impacts of serious challenges: cancer, mental illness, homelessness, the suicide of a loved one, and yes, sexual harassment and assault, as well as the potential for therapy sourced from our four-legged population. 

A growing number of regional authors write #LGBTQIA books. From picture books through middle grade, YA to mainstream fiction, literature must reflect a diverse world. 

When people reach out to me via email or a DM on Twitter, their work-in-progress might speak to what’s going on in my home, in my friend group, or in other populations I am connected to, such as the Veterans’ Writing Workshop. Too many of us have lived through major traumas, and when we lean on one another and share our stories, we expedite the healing process. 

My world has changed over the years, and my writing reflects that growth. I will always set aside my work to spend time with a person in need. Or to compose that heartfelt missive, which just might be the most important craft to keep alive. 

Writing is all about connection. 

A bond of trust between the author and the reader—a person who is putting their faith in our story. If we dare to speak the truth as we’ve lived it, or we’ve 100% endeavored to accurately represent someone else's reality, then something of our honest intent comes through on the page. What we’ve penned takes on a higher purpose. 

By all means, buy your writing friends that bullet journal (or better yet, make them one). Many authors have a Ko-Fi account. You can send them an instant lift, because we all need caffeine, right? J My personal favorite is to go in together on booking a hotel for a night or two. Sneak away and commit to a block of writing, away from your workaday environment. 

Another option is to contribute to a worthy cause on your friend's behalf. Here are some excellent ideas: Charitable Giving for the Holidays

Wishing each and every one an incredibly productive 2018, filled with writing that is meaningful to you. Quite likely, the talent you share will be the best gift you can possibly give.


Ideas for gifts for writers?


Ronda Simmons said...

Great post, as usual, Laura! It has warmed my heart to be a part of the NCW community by supporting other writers. For example, by attending signing parties for Todd Mitchell's The Last Panther ( and Amy River's "Best Laid Plans and Other Disasters (


Or by attending the workshops lead by Trai Cartwright, April Moore, Teresa Funke, Joe Siple, etc. etc. etc.

Here's another great blog post on gifts for writers by the keynote speaker at the last NCW conference, the multi-talented and terribly funny Chuck Wendig:

Laura Mahal said...

Thanks, Ronda. I completely agree that supporting fellow authors is a spectacular idea. I've got Todd Mitchell's The Last Panther on my nightstand, as an incentive for when I finish a few editing projects. Books really are the best type of dessert! (Guaranteed to be calorie-free but nutrient-dense.)

At this time of year, many writers offer some sort of special. Off the top of my head, I believe Diane Fromme, Linnea Tanner, and Teresa Funke are offering some wonderful options. So is the Writer's Digest Shop. One can score some truly useful Chuck Wendig swag, I mean, educational materials, including The Kick-Ass Writer and Damn Fine Story.

And remember the power of a well-timed note or email to tell someone how much you've valued their work or their assistance with your work. Perhaps your letter will arrive in their mailbox or inbox on the same day as they've gotten a bad review or are thinking of hanging up the game.

All I can say is to trust your instincts when it comes to figuring out the perfect gift for that special artistic someone in your life. True story: One year, I gave a friend a bag of bat guano, because he gardened as his outlet for stress. He swore that was the most thoughtful gift he'd ever received! Ever since, I've been more than willing to "think outside the [roosting] box." :-)

Todd Mitchell said...

Right on! Thank you, Laura for this thoughtful post about supporting books and writers, and the ways books can connect and transform us. And thank you Ronda for mentioning The Last Panther and the book release party (and the great post you wrote on that). It's been a busy past few months! I hope you both have wonderful Holidays and find plenty of good books to give and read. Rock on!

leela_mahal said...

Thanks, Todd! You are an excellent example of a talented writer and an involved community member, willing to take the lead on a number of important social and environmental issues. I admire your writing and your advocacy in equal measures. Best of luck to you with The Last Panther and all of your other books, including the ones to come in the future.

We could all vow to read/write at least half a dozen reviews in the year ahead. It is a measurable and achievable goal, and really would make a difference to the authors we support. Cheers!

Emma Glour said...

Wow. great post.

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