I’ve always liked the tools of writing and I’ve received quite a few gifts over the years that were just that. Writing tools. My wife still buys me writing books as gifts as well as books I want to read. All tools for a writer. But my most memorable writing gifts were the real physical tools of the task.
The first writing gifts I remember getting were yellow ledger pads and pencils my father would bring home for me from his office. They were much more interesting to me than the big-lined school paper or 3-hole punched notebook paper we had to buy for school. Yellow ledger pads seemed more “adult,” more “professional.” I saw people on TV, newspaper reporters and lawyers, doing real “business,” real writing on these kinds of pads. I
When I was twelve my father brought me home another writing gift from the office. A Royal manual typewriter. Manual was the operative word. It was like a manual transmission versus an automatic transmission in a car. You had to have pretty good finger strength, but it was very impressive when your words came out in that Times font almost like in a real book. I was all hunt and peck with two fingers, but I quickly learned where all the keys were. Along with this I was given a ream of typing paper so I could really go to town. I wrote my first big school report on that machine. It was about Al Capp, the creator of the Lil’ Abner cartoon strip.
Soon after, I received a Christmas gift of a Cross pen and pencil set. Gold tone in a silk lined black velvet case. These instruments were only for special writing occasions like signing the back of birthday checks or the bottom of official letters I would write to people like Mickey Mantle or the company that failed to send me the stamps I requested.
The Royal lasted me all through high school where I took a typing class and learned how to use all my fingers. In my junior year in college I finally got the gift of the ultimate writing machine; an IBM Selectric typewriter. It too was used, but it required no special pressure on the keys. You just touched them and bam! There was a letter on the page. It had a ball you could change with different fonts. Many a term paper and short story was written on that baby. That particular gift kept me going through school, work, and my first published fiction, till I bought my first used Mac in 1987. A big gift for myself. It’s been Mac’s ever since. I wonder what will be next?
But, maybe the best writing gifts of all though, are those less physical writing tools; time, support, and encouragement. Many thanks to all of my family, friends, editors, and fellow writers for many years of those!