Warning: Hacks for Hacks tips may have harmful side effects on your writing career, and should not be used by minors, adults, writers, poets, scribes, scriveners, journalists, or anybody.
Writing has lots of rewards, most of which are worthless. You can’t pay rent with critical acclaim, nor will contributors’ copies finance your office-supply addiction. But as far as non-monetary rewards go, what’s more satisfying than giving a thoughtful present to your fellow authors? The ones who hated your latest manuscript, or the folks who have gone on to secure agents or sign deals or make a mint through self-publishing while you have to buy more Gmail storage space to fit all your rejection letters? Yes, some thoughtful gifts for these folks would feel fantastic, especially when you know how…helpful these gifts could be for them.
Here’s a few ideas:
- For an unpublished writer: A new display shelf where they can put all their publications. Let the shame of an empty shelf motivate them to succeed! When this shelf inevitably becomes cluttered with junk mail and their kids’ homework, clear it off for them and say, “Got to leave space for all those best-sellers and cult classics!” Cost: $50
- For your insecure friend: Breath mints, especially if they don’t need them. Cost: $2
- For your hipster friend who still writes with a typewriter: A truly hideous paperweight for all their typed pages. Every time they feel the joy of completing another page, they’ll have to look at the ceramic monstrosity you gave them, thus slowing their momentum the tiniest little bit. Be careful, though—if it’s too ugly, your hipster friend will think it’s cool. Cost: $20
- For someone racing to meet a deadline: Reserve space at your local bookstore for their book release party at the earliest possible release date. Mention that, to get the room, you had to promise at least fifty people would show up. Get a caterer, and put down a substantial deposit. You’ll be able to see your reflection in the sweat forming on your friend’s brow. Cost: $500
For your friend who has writer’s block: The complete works of Stephen King. See, it’s just a matter of applying yourself and managing your time and prioritization. If they could just get their act together, they too could write a hundred-odd books. Cost: Like a thousand bucks, probably.
- For your friend who just got a book deal with a big advance: Your bar tab the next time you go out. Cost: $0
- For your editor: A dried-up red pen, which they should use when marking up your latest manuscript. Cost: $0 for the pen, $40 for the bespoke wooden box you’ll store it in.
- For everybody else: Lots of books. In Iceland, they have Jolabokaflod, or the “Christmas Book Flood,” where people give each other books. Books are a meaningful gift, and a great way to send a message that someone needs to be more productive, ditch that dead-end job, or to stop sucking in general. There’s no habit so annoying that you can’t cure with a thoughtfully given book. They’ll be inspired to overcome any bad habit, or they’ll be so annoyed with you that you’ll never see them again. Cost: $60
As you see, you can experience the holiday joy of knocking your friends down a peg or two for only a couple thousand bucks and all of your human relationships. Merry Christmas, everyone!
What’s the most passive-aggressive gift on your shopping list this year? Let us know in the comments!
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About Bill Ferris
After college, Bill Ferris left Nebraska for Florida to become a rich and famous rock star. Failing that, he picked up the pen to become a rich and famous novelist. He now lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and looks forward to a life of poverty and ridicule.
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