The 2021 Regifting Guide for Writers

From Writer Unboxed:

Happy 2021! Now that the longest year in history is over, it’s a good time for reflection and taking stock of things. And by “things” I mean those Christmas and/or Hanukkah gifts you got. If you’re a writer, you probably got a lot of writing-centric gifts. I’m going to say it so you don’t have to: some writer gifts are better than others. (I know, you don’t want to seem ungrateful, but another coffee mug? Really?!)

If Santa decided to go off-list for you, take heart that even the worst Christmas gift for you may be a reasonably serviceable birthday gift for someone else. That’s right, we’re talking about the greatest of holiday taboos: regifting. Some may frown on it, but a properly executed regifting prevents waste and saves you a trip to the store, which is more important than ever during a pandemic, so really you’re doing everybody a favor. The 2021 Regifting Guide for Writers will help you decide what to keep, what to give away, and how to do it without looking like a jerk.

Let the foisting begin!

  • Motivational posters: The implicit premise behind many writing-themed gifts is that writers are in an unceasing funk in which they have no ideas or inspiration. This is accurate, of course, but it’s kinda mean to broadcast it to everybody, right? Few gifts signal writers’ daily desperation as loudly as the motivational poster. Designed to fill writers with creative inspiration, writing-inspiration posters more often remind writers of all the writing they’re not getting done. Verdict: Regift it.
  • Notebooks: Cracking open a brand-new notebook fills writers with inspiration, and can be a fun way to kickstart a new writing project. Verdict: Keep it.
  • Pens: The most ubiquitous tool of any author, pens are portable, useful, and make a statement about your commitment to your craft (or that you snagged a promotional pen when you dropped off your suit at the dry cleaner). Writers get a lot of pens as gifts, some of which are impractical, fussy, or require a very spillable inkwell. However, there are few things more frustrating for a writer than not having a pen when you need one. Verdict: If it’s a fancy pen, keep it. If it’s a box of cheap, ordinary rollerball pens that will actually fit in your pocket, keep it and write a very nice thank-you card.
  • Writerly coffee mugs: If there’s one thing people know about writers, is that they’re always drinking coffee, unless they’re drinking alcohol. Coffee mugs emblazoned with statements like, “BE NICE TO ME OR I’LL PUT YOU IN MY NOVEL” and “I AM SILENTLY CORRECTING YOUR GRAMMAR” are popular gifts from folks whose friendship is good enough that they know you’re a writer, but not so close that they will read your work. While each author mug has a different catchy slogan, they all contain the same subtext: “I AM NOT PUBLISHED.” Verdict: Regift it to an unpublished friend.

Link to the rest at Writer Unboxed

6 thoughts on “The 2021 Regifting Guide for Writers”

  1. Can I just say: I hate the way gift has been turned into a verb. There are times in our language when turning nouns into verbs is creative and useful. But, we already had a perfectly fine word: give, gave. S/he “gifted” me/us has this faux elegance and pseudo-elevation to it that is so pretentious and yet, the entire culture has embraced it. It’s like, nobody remembered we already had a word to serve that purpose.

    • The problem is that gift as a verb has an extra connotation of willingness/generosity.
      “ToGive” is just the action, “To gift” carries intent.

      I give the cashier a payment, I gift a birthday present.
      I may give the IRS part of my earnings but it is not willingly or out of generosity.
      They’re not interchangeable and the intent matters.

      • You sound very authoritative – very sure that gift as a verb has “an extra connotation of willingness/generosity & carries intent.” But:

        dictionary.com says give: to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation; bestow: to give a birthday present to someone.

        Merriam-Webster says: 1 : to make a present of// give a doll to a child

        My observation is that gift as a verb just came into vogue in the last 10 years or so, maybe less. Maybe this has been going on for the last 50 years I’ve been on the planet & verbal, but I don’t think so. We got along talking about giving both payments and gifts (actually, we often said “making” a payment, which distinguishes it just fine from giving out of generosity.)

        I get the distinction you’re making and it’s not unreasonable, but I do not accept your absolute distinction between to give and to gift or if there is now such a distinction, it’s quite new and, again, to my ears, ersatz and unnecessary.

        • Gifting as a verb is, as you said, new usage.
          So, look at how people use it.

          You really see no difference between “Joe gifted me that camera” and “Joe gave me that camera” ? The former isn’t more precise than the latter? One tells you why you got the camera, the other says nothing about why. Maybe Joe was returning a loaner or giving it to hold for a while. Or maybe he gave it to keep.
          Again, give only speaks to the action of moving the object.
          Gift is more precise.
          And, like it or not, it is how people speak outside academia.
          In fact, gifting as a verb is so entrenched it is spreading to sarcasm and parody. It’s not going away.

          People made a new verb because the existing one wasn’t adequate to precisely express their thoughts. That is how living languages evolve.

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