Since we're smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, I thought nothing could be more appropriate than to hear from the other side of the fence - our poor spouse/significant other/partner in crime who has to live with us (and our Muses!)all year long and then try to figure out what to give a creative type for a holiday gift. So I asked my long-suffering (nearly 11 years now) husband to give us his point of view. Here's what he said:
Hello all, Navy Guy here. My lovely wife asked me to write a blog on the “Care and Feeding of Authors” for her web site. I thought this was particularly ambitious of her, given that my writing is almost entirely restricted to generating various Navy memoranda, reports, and instructions. Not what you might call inspiring in any setting. Also, I’m not particularly funny. This fact has been related to me on several occasions, by our children (in the direct manner that most children have) accompanied by the usual eye-rolling, and deep sighs of pity for my lameness. The dogs still find me mildly entertaining, although it is usually dependent on the presence of a squeaky toy, or some other sort of treat. Unfortunately for you, I have no grown-up squeaky toys or treats, so toss back those pre-emptive Tylenol tablets, crack open your favorite beverage (something alcoholic may help) and here we go!
The Christmas season is one of the most wonderful, and potentially lethal, times of year. Choosing the right gift for your writer is, need I say it, very important. The kids are easy. You follow a simple checklist: Seen on TV? Check. Makes noise, lights, puddles, or other debris? Check. Requires AA, C, D, and 9-volt batteries (not included of course) and stock in the Duracell company? Check.
Not so the Writer.
To be fair, I am quite possibly the worst gift buyer ever. I provide the following transcript of a real conversation which occurred in our kitchen the other day as proof:
Navy Guy (NG): “Hey sweety, you know how you were saying that your computer is acting too slow, and how that’s been aggravating you so much?”
Alesia: “Mmm Hmm” (Distractedly working on something else)
NG: “Well, I was thinking that for one of your Christmas presents, I would get you a
memory upgrade for your computer so that it would work faster!”
Alesia: “…………” (Staring at NG)
NG: Sweet Jesus! I’ve stepped on a landmine!
Alesia: “…………..” (Still staring)
NG: Stay calm, you might lose a foot, maybe the whole leg, but we can survive this! STAY CALM MAN!!
Alesia: “ Umm, No.”
NG: “Right, right! What was I thinking?! That would be a totally lame and inappropriate gift!”
Children: (Shaking their heads in disbelief and resignation.) We can’t believe we are related to him. We never saw anything about computer memory on TV. I’ll bet it doesn’t even have batteries. Poor daddy.
Dogs: I wonder if there is bacon with that.
So, you see, I am already working at a distinct (perhaps mental) disadvantage. There are many hazards on the way to finding the right gift for your romance writer. We have already seen the “Lame Electronic Gift” (there is a caveat in this category for the “impossibly-small-yet-totally-cool-gadget” gift such as the newest micro-mini MP3 player, cel phone, or digital camera) but there are other, even deadlier land mines out there. Anything that is eminently practical is not what we are looking for: Towel sets (boom!), Kitchen appliances (Boom!), Exercise equipment (KA-BOOM!!) all should be avoided.
Well then, if you are like me, you are asking yourself “Holy Mackerel! What’s left?” Well, you can’t just ask:
NG: “Hey honey, what would you like for Christmas this year?”
Alesia: “I would think that after ten and a half years of marriage and two children you would know by now!”
NG: “Well of course I do sweety! I was just checking to make sure I didn’t forget anything!” Curses! Foiled again!
This is when you must tap into the depths of the writer’s mindset. As the spouse of a writer, you are her soul-mate; the muscle-bound, yet strangely free of body hair man on the white horse on the front of those books, who swept her off her feet all those years ago. And, as her soul-mate, you just intuitively and psychically know what it is she wants for Christmas. Sadly, in my case, this psychic connection has been quite effectively filtered out by brain damage caused by an infatuation with electronics, an Electrical Engineering degree, and 20 years of military life. But all is not lost. There are a few sure-fire gifts that can’t go wrong:
Automobiles. More specifically red convertibles. Always a winner.
Adornments. Designer jewelry, designer clothes, designer shoes, expensive perfumes. All very effective.
Spa Treatments. A big winner for me last year, underappreciated writer-moms love to be pampered.
Any of these things, either individually, or in combination, are very good ideas.
The best thing of all, after a long, arduous, shopping season, is that no matter how lame the gifts may be, she will still love you. After all, you are soul-mates! Merry Christmas! And may your New Year with your writers be filled with many wonderful contracts and no writer's block! (See, I AM learning . . .)
Judd, aka Mr. Alesia