Where Most of Us Live: Between Midnight and Dawn

Between Midnight and Dawn
My midnight cat, Emerson, knows how to curl up with a good book on a snowy morning.

I don’t write book reviews often, and when I do, they’re usually of fiction titles. The review that follows is an exception, and it’s an exception for two reasons. First, because Between Midnight and Dawn is an imaginative collection of poetry and prose that reveals what great literature is at its core: a psalm, a cry against the darkness, a prayer. And second, because I am privileged to know the talented compiler of this collection, Sarah Arthur, and the story of how I came to know her is too crazy not to share. It’s the kind of story that makes a person (a.k.a. me) believe “coincidence” is just a word we humans use to describe bigger realities we do not fully understand. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

First, the book.

sarah arthurBetween Midnight and Dawn is a “literary guide to prayer for Lent, Holy Week, and Eastertide.” So to be clear, this work is meant to lead readers who celebrate these liturgical seasons through a collection of great literature that explores themes of darkness and light—themes many of us experience deeply in the dead of winter, when spring is on the horizon, but still feels so far away.

Let’s start with the title. As soon as I realized it was a line from a T.S. Eliot poem, I knew this was my kind of devotional (by which I mean, a devotional for someone who has difficulty connecting with most devotionals).

 

…Between midnight and dawn, when the past is all deception,

The future futureless, before the morning watch

When time stops and time is never ending;

And the grounds swell, that is and was from the beginning,

Clangs

The bell.

(From “The Dry Salvages” in Four Quartets)

I love T.S. Eliot’s poetry because I have no idea what he’s trying to say. And yet I know exactly what he’s trying to say. His words evoke paradoxes that resonate, mysteries that are as true and clear as the clang of a bell, but oh so hard to explain. That pretty much sums up what I often feel during the season of Lent and even Easter—a time of ancient traditions and mysteries that go deep and ring true, but can be difficult to articulate in a world of abrupt soundbites and short status updates.

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In contrast to the fast, cursory internet reading of everyday life, Sarah Arthur has compiled a collection of words meant to be savored. As she poignantly states in the introduction, these are words for those who have “lain awake during moonless hours between midnight and dawn,” and who often feel that “the darkness is final. It owns the earth utterly. It takes hold in the tick of the clock and the stillness of the woods and the shallow breath of your own mute body…It is the last and definitive night.” Yet as every insomniac knows, “by some magic that cannot be quantified, it is not. The earth stirs, inhales, stretches…Light, where there was no light, makes visible: first the outline of a window, then the edge of the bed, your own hand, a book open on the covers. There’s no saying precisely when the turn happens. But it does. Every morning. From the beginning of the world.”

This book is a literary treasure trove all about the turns. It is also about the long nights in between them—the still points that are not always peaceful. Between Midnight and Dawn contains excerpts from beloved classic writers and poets such as George MacDonald, Emily Bronte, Charles Dickens, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Christina Rossetti, yet there are many selections from contemporary authors, too: Luci Shaw, Scott Cairns, and Wendell Berry, to name just a few. If any of these names are familiar, then you will surely appreciate the encounter with old friends, but be prepared to make new ones as well.

Now for the insane story of how I discovered both a new and old friend in Sarah.

I suppose I am from Michigan (that’s where all my family is from), but for the first thirty years of my life, I never lived there once (two words: military brat). That all changed in 2012 when my husband and I moved to Michigan so I could pursue a writing fellowship at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal. We were there for only a year, but it was an eventful year that exposed a series of intriguing connections (or in more dramatic Anne Shirley-type language, “circles of destiny”). One such “circle” was revealed during a visit to the annual C.S. Lewis Literature Festival in Petoskey. C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors, so when my husband and I heard about this event, we decided to make the drive north, given that we could stay overnight in the farmhouse my parents own, located in a small town about 40 minutes from the quaint little city of Petoskey on Lake Michigan (see, that’s a sign there’s some Michigan in me—I know the distance in minutes, not in miles). The first festival event we attended was a panel discussion that Sarah happened to be a part of. As soon as I saw her, I turned to my husband and whispered, “I know her from somewhere.” When the panel moderator introduced the speakers, I quickly figured out where that “somewhere” was—Sarah was also a graduate of Duke Divinity School in

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Duke University Chapel

Durham, North Carolina, where I had recently pursued a master’s degree, and I was pretty sure she looked familiar because we had been at Duke at the same time. After the talk, I introduced myself to Sarah and we discovered that we had, in fact, overlapped at Duke.

“What brought you all the way up here for the festival?” Sarah asked.

(I’m paraphrasing here. You should also know that while the speakers at the C.S. Lewis Festival are always outstanding, Petoskey—a small city located at the very top of Michigan’s “mitten,” the lower peninsula—is not the easiest place to get to, so this festival is a rather regional event. That’s what makes this “it’s a small world” story even stranger).

In response to Sarah’s question, I explained that my dad was originally from a tiny town not too far from Petoskey, so we’d decided to drive up for the weekend to attend the festival and visit family, too.

“Oh, what town is that?”

“Onaway,” I replied (population 880). “You probably don’t know it; it’s pretty small.”

“Oh, I know Onaway. I have family there, too,” Sarah replied. “Who are some of your relatives?”

“The Chowen family.”

Sarah’s face broke into a knowing smile. “I’m related to the Chowens.”

That’s right, folks—it turns out Sarah and I are distant cousins. My great-grandmother and her grandmother were sisters. We had never met before this moment, and yet we both attended a fairly large seminary at the same time, in another state a thousand miles away, where we sat in the same lecture halls, never knowing we were related. We both love C.S. Lewis and literature in general, we are both fascinated by the power of the imagination, and we both write for a young adult audience (Sarah has published several wonderful books for teens).

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Our own “Green Gables”

To reference my beloved literary heroine once more, I had discovered “a kindred spirit”—one of shared DNA as well as soul. After the festival, I told my grandmother about Sarah; she dug up a box of old family photographs and produced pictures of Sarah and her mother in minutes. In one of these images, Sarah is riding with my great-grandfather Cecil on his tractor across the property my dad inherited—a once-working farm pictured here, land that has been in the Chowen family since the late 1800s (the old barn finally collapsed two decades ago).

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Perhaps some of you who are reading this will regard the encounter as one big coincidence. Yet for me, this little story has become a source of light during dark times between midnight and dawn—times when it feels like the Narnian winter will never end, days when all the magic has been sucked out of life. Like all the best stories, it reminds me that “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Such a lived story—which is what liturgy is, too: lived story—helps me remember the Mystery behind everything, gracing me with hope that when we encounter this Mystery face to face, “what we’ll see then”—as Sarah puts it in her rich literary guide—“won’t be simply light at the end of a tunnel, but light at the end of all things, the final and permanent morning.”

 

 

 

Finding Your Story in the Middle of the Journey

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As a kid, cross-country moves were one of the few times I woke up early enough to see the sun rise. My parents used to load me and my sisters—still blurry-eyed and pajama-clad—into the minivan before dawn, that way we’d (hopefully) fall back asleep and they could have a few hours of peaceful driving without sibling bickering. I remember opening my eyes as the dusky night sky melted into rainbow Sherbet streaks, relieved to know that the darkness was almost over. The sunrise on a long drive from Colorado to Alabama, or Texas to Washington, marked a major milestone: there was now enough light to read.

Life in a military family involves countless goodbyes and new beginnings, but books were portable friends I could always count on. Stories have shaped my imagination for as long as I can remember, and the characters who became my companions during an upbringing of constant change gave me a sense of security—something even the most durable child needs. No matter where we moved, or what my new school was like, or how long my dad might be away, the places and people who inhabited the books I loved would always be there. Imagination was a timeless realm, a place I could always escape to, even if every other aspect of life was out of my control. Stories taught me that life itself is a Story, one with all the necessary components of a plot (spoiler: you don’t get a great Climax or satisfying Resolution without a few Crises and an ‘All is Lost’ moment).

Maybe books didn’t play a huge part in your childhood, but I bet stories still shaped you in some way. For some reason, we humans can’t get enough of them, whether those stories are in the form of fiction, history, movies, or music. In hindsight, my deep affection for books as a TCK makes sense, given that nomads and storytelling have been traveling companions for…well, forever. Roving tribes from around the globe used to gather around campfires to sing songs and swap tales. The bestselling book in human history tells the story of a people’s wanderings in the desert as they sought out the Promised Land. In Ireland, there was once a class of itinerant storytellers called seanchaithe—traveling bards who took on the role of keeping folk legends alive. Even the more stable and sedentary members of society in ages past enjoyed the accounts of adventure, suffering, and triumph that travelers brought back to share with the rest of the community upon their return.

I find it interesting—and not coincidental—that many of the stories that captivated my imagination as child were about other nomads. Odysseus had his galley ship, Laura Ingalls had her covered wagon, Frodo had the many feet of his fellowship, and millions of other “brats” like me had minivans plastered with “Army Strong” bumper stickers. Other kids got to spend their entire childhoods in the same town surrounded by the same set of friends, but reading about these wanderers showed me that my family wasn’t as strange as we sometimes felt. There are many benefits to growing up in a close-knit community surrounded by extended family and neighbors you know well—in fact, this is probably one of the best ways to grow up in terms of overall emotional and mental well-being—but reading stories about other nomads helped me identify and internalize the particular advantages of life as a Third Culture Kid.

This wasn’t something I was conscious of at such a young age, but for most of my childhood, I viewed our military life as a grand adventure. It was a lifestyle that sometimes made me sad, but it was a positive experience overall–except for that one time in high school when it felt like Uncle Sam had a personal vendetta against me by making me move the summer before my senior year. My father was the one who joined the Army when he signed that dotted line, but we all believed we were contributing to a greater good. I never enjoyed saying goodbye to the people and places I’d grown to love when it was time for another PCS, but I also knew we weren’t just aimless wanderers; when we moved, we moved for a reason. For a child especially, there’s something magical about being caught up in an Epic that’s much bigger than your own small tale.

To allude to an earlier blog post, stories have taught me that home isn’t always a physical location. Home is made up of the people and places that shape our identity and help us understand our place in this world. Our memories of childhood often produce strong feelings of nostalgia, a word that comes from the Greek for “homecoming” (nostos) and “pain” or “ache” (algos). I don’t know about you, but the strongest feelings of nostalgia I’ve experienced are never for one static place in particular, but for a million small moments and memories that make up the tapestry of my life. I don’t ache for a particular house or a specific town, I long for the chirping cicadas and pine-needle carpets of a forest in the Deep South, or an eternal afternoon on a white-sand beach on Oahu, or the cobblestone streets and red-tiled rooftops of a historic village in Germany.

It turns out Home looks a lot like a little girl in the back of a car with a book.

What does “homecoming” look like for you?

 

 

 

Why Traditions Like ‘Tea Time’ Matter

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ~C.S. Lewis

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If you’ve spent any time in the United Kingdom (or watched a Masterpiece Theater TV show, or read any novel set in Britain), then you probably know that most Brits love a good cup of tea. I picked up the craving for a pot of Early Grey and a dense, buttery scone while spending a summer in Northern Ireland and a year in Scotland as a student, and the afternoon tradition has followed me back to the U.S.—sadly, minus the scones (but Paleo banana muffins made with gluten-free coconut flour are just as good, right? No, they are not). If the sunlight is turning deep gold, my mind starts getting fuzzy, and I’m feeling a bit peckish (to use the British phrase), I’ll glance at a clock and, sure enough, it’s usually about 4pm.

So why does a daily ritual like this matter (beyond the practicality of an afternoon pick-me-up)? In the U.K. tea is often a social affair—one with etiquette and customs (turns out Merry & Pippin weren’t kidding about elevenses) that may seem intimidating for Americans who’ve watched one too many seasons of Downton Abbey. For me, afternoon tea is typically time I spend on my own, but as someone who also spends much of the day working on the computer and even more time in her head, this daily ritual provides a chance to unplug and check back into physical reality—as in 30 minutes spent holding a hot mug, curled up in a cozy chair, reading a hardcover book. Not everyone is going to be as endeared to this tradition as I’ve become (Brit or non-Brit), but if you’re a writer or another creative-type who spends a lot of time online or “up in the clouds,” it can be helpful to establish a daily routine which includes concrete reminders that you’re not just a walking mind or a Twitter update, but a human being with an actual body (my other favorite reminder of this is a daily walk or jog).

So let’s here from you, fellow writers—what are some of the routines or traditions that keep you grounded?

And while you think on that, I’ll be boiling water in the kitchen. It’s about 4 o’clock…

Creating in Community

BandersnatchWriting is a craft that requires solitude, but the life of a writer doesn’t have to be completely solitary. If you’re interested in the ways writers can work together to form creative communities, check out a preview of my review of Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings below and read the rest over at the The University Bookman:

There is no shortage of books on the authors who made up the best known writing group of the twentieth century—the Inklings. Less common are books about the Inklings as a group, especially when it comes to how these writers critiqued and collaborated on one another’s projects. Diana Glyer’s new book Bandersnatch: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings is not merely an abridged version of her earlier work of scholarship, The Company They Keep (2008), adapted for a broader audience. In many ways, Bandersnatch is a call to action.

After decades of inquiry and countless books and articles, we know quite a lot about the Inklings, and we understand that this group helped bring great works of fiction into the world, the most famous being The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. But Glyer seems to be asking why more artists of faith have not formed similar groups imitating the effective strategies of this Oxford circle. In other words, where are the Lewises and Tolkiens of today?

Read the rest here…

We’re All Homeless Now

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The holidays are a time when internal aches of longing are especially acute. Nostalgia runs rampant, but as adults it’s impossible to recreate the magic of childhood, despite our best efforts. What is this rare, elusive treasure we’re searching for during a season of abundance and even excess? I have a theory…

I think we’re looking for home.

I’m not sure what it is about our modern age, but for some reason this “place” seems to be harder and harder to find…and not only for lifelong nomads like me. What does this say about us as a society? Why do so many of us feel homeless these days?

My own story is that I moved eight times by the time I turned eighteen, living in six different U.S. states and one foreign country. By the time I turned thirty, I’d moved a total of fifteen times, living in nine different U.S. states and four foreign countries. They say old habits die hard, and this is especially true for military brats (like me) and other Third Culture Kids, whose primary habit happens to be change.

In case the term is new to you, a Third Culture Kid (TCK) is usually defined as “a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.”[1] Traditional TCK populations include the children of military service members, the children of missionaries, and the children of diplomats. Yet in our age of “worldschooling” Millennials and “digital nomad” entrepreneurs, there are other types of Third Culture Kids in our increasingly globalized world. I identify with this label because I spent my formative high school years in Germany and have felt an unshakable connection to Europe ever since, to the extent that I’ve gone back to live there (Germany, Spain, Scotland, and Northern Ireland) several times. In many ways, I feel more “at home” in Europe than I do the United States.

My nomadic instincts followed me into adulthood, and I have no doubt my military upbringing played a huge role in fostering my gypsy ways. But we TCKs are not as rare or exotic as we once were, seeing how our modern world is made up of many kinds of wanderers. Fewer and fewer North Americans in the 21st century remain in their birthplaces–or even close–for the duration of their lives. Many of us live in a constant state of uprootedness—chasing education, chasing job opportunities, chasing dreams. Millions are on the move, leaving the hometowns that shaped them for the promise of something (supposedly) better in another state or even another country.

On the one hand, maybe this is nothing new. Even if our society feels more mobile now than it’s been in recent generations, the struggles of the sojourner have always been part of the human experience. History is filled with tales of immigrants and pilgrims, pioneers and refugees (the Christmas Story being a prime example). A deep longing for a home appears to be a universal human desire, but in the grand scheme of things, isn’t being rooted in a specific location a privileged exception rather than the norm?

On the other hand, most of our ancestors who journeyed vast distances in search of a better life did so in the context of a community. One family member would immigrate to a new country to get established, but usually other family members and friends followed. Even if an exceptionally brave man or woman set sail for the New World alone, he or she would likely find an ethnic neighborhood or religious community in this new home that was populated with people who shared the same customs and native tongue (for a beautiful illustration of this, check out the movie Brooklyn, one of my favorite films of 2015). Yet with the exception of a few ready-made communities such as the military, many North Americans who move frequently for education or work do so without the assurance that a particular community will be waiting to welcome them at the next location. As a result, while material benefits may be a consequence of our increasingly mobile culture, it comes at a steep price—the emotional, psychological, and spiritual wounds of homelessness.

Home, for whatever reason, is a word that resonates with us as humans, especially at this time of year. Home signifies a place of sanctuary, a place of security, a place where we belong no matter what. But how many of us in our fractured culture truly feel like we have homes to return to? Is “home” just the last place you lived before your most recent PCS (for non-military folks, that’s Permanent Change of Station)? Does the family returning to the U.S. after serving as missionaries in a tight-knit African village ever feel at home in a sprawling city where their neighbors rarely talk, invitations to dinner aren’t eagerly reciprocated, and the struggle to form meaningful relationships often feels like more trouble than it’s worth? Is the generic house in a subdivision surrounded by strip malls that your parents moved to after you graduated high school or college—a place where the geography doesn’t hold a single memory—ever really home? Does visiting Dad for Thanksgiving and Mom for Christmas because they now live on opposite sides of the country fill our longing for permanence and a sense of belonging?

Military brats and other TCKs have struggled with homelessness for generations, but given the mobility and lack of stability that many people experience today, we are no longer alone in this. The wounds of homelessness affect many people in the economy-driven world of the West, and according to TCK experts David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken, these wounds tend to manifest in two specific challenges: rootlessness and restlessness.

We are rootless not only because we lack the physical roots of permanent places, but because the ever-changing nature of our fast-paced culture has weakened many longstanding traditions and removed generational customs from our lives. Perhaps we feel disconnected from—or ignorant of—the history that shaped our country, or even the ancestral stories that shaped our own families. We feel restless because happiness is always a destination dangled out in front of us, rather than the deeper and more difficult joy of the journey. How many times have you thought that you might finally feel content if only you changed your career path or found a way to move to your dream location? I know I have (and often still do). Yet after every move or job switch, the restlessness gradually returns and with it comes the urge to hit the road and figure out “the next step” towards fulfillment.

Rootlessness and restlessness are widespread challenges that many creatives have recognized and are seeking to combat. And while I appreciate the localist sentiments and calls to stability expressed by writers such as Wendell Berry and blogs such as Front Porch Republic, staying in one place can be extremely difficult for many people, especially those who don’t have a home base or intact family to start with. The majority of the mobile people I know don’t move because they want to, but because they feel they must in order to keep their jobs or find better employment. My own family happens to have land that does give us with a sense of history and place–a farm house on acreage that has been in our family since the 1800s. Yet actually living in this rural area and finding sustainable work that can pay the student loan bills is almost impossible. So what do we–especially the younger generations born into this increasingly rootless and restless world–do about it?

Honestly, I’m not sure. Sorry.

The problem of homelessness is one I’m still trying to address myself, and I hope to share more thoughts on it in the coming weeks. I do suspect that like so many areas of contemporary life where the old scripts have been thrown out–leaving us with very few rehearsed lines that we can use to play our assigned roles–we must intentionally develop narratives for our own lives. We must write new stories and attempt to graft them on to the older tales that have come before us. Otherwise, home rarely “just happens” in our world today; if we want it, we must consciously create it. Yet through the revival of forgotten traditions and the formation of intentional communities perhaps we can transform the wounds of homelessness into pushpins on a map pointing us in the direction of a Home that isn’t merely a physical address, but an internal dwelling place and a root-system of relationships.

This is something I hope to explore more in 2016, so if you’re searching for home too, I hope you’ll join me.

 

[1] David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken, Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Words (Nicholas Brealey America, 2009), 13.

 

Review of CURIO by Evangeline Denmark

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Curio in my curio
CURIO in my curio.

If you love all things steampunk, then Curio will be quite a treat! If you enjoy an intricate YA fantasy world, then you will also love this book. I admit that I don’t know that much about the steampunk genre, but I do have an interest in the steampunk fashion/convention scene, and the atmosphere of Evangeline Denmark’s novel evokes what I imagined a steampunk world would feel like. This is a BIG book, in the sense that I did not expect the world to be so complex and multi-layered. If you find yourself confused at any point, hang on—it will all make sense in the end. That said, this is probably not the book for those whose reading tastes tend to gravitate towards realism, as Curio is definitely fantasy with elements of enchantment that require the reader to suspend disbelief. I’ve always thought of steampunk as a kind of “this almost could have really happened in the Victorian era” alternate history, but Curio is more steeped in magic like Harry Potter, so be aware of that if fantasy isn’t usually your thing. Denmark’s imagination is incredible, and the introduction of a world within a world that had its own unique cast of characters, from “tocks” to “porcies,” was unlike anything I’ve come across in Young Adult fiction (a genre where trends are often imitated to the point of frustration and boredom). Gray’s adventure in Curio City was definitely one of my favorite parts of the story. Speaking of Gray, she’s an awesome heroine. Strong and admirable, but not overly “girl power” to the point that I felt like I already knew her entire story by the end of page one. Gray was real and sympathetic, and I enjoyed following her through a fascinating world!

10 Unique Gifts for Writers & Book Worms

Many writers–at least the ones I know–have simple tastes. Writing is a passion that can easily overtake other hobbies, and if you’re a writer, the realm of the imagination is probably your favorite place to spend time in. So what more do you really need besides more time to write, more pairs of comfy pants (to postpone the need to do laundry, which cuts into writing time), and more books to read?

Chocolate. I guess there’s always that.

But seriously, if you’re a writer, have writer friends, or happen to live with this bizarre sub-species of human, finding  gifts for these people (besides the obvious: books) can be a challenge. Here are a few unique ideas:

10) Litograph Poster

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Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

Give the writer/reader in your life the words of a favorite book (all of them–seriously) in an interesting work of art.

 

9) Aqua Notes

aqua-notes-homeI’m pretty sure I’ve written an entire novel while in the shower. In my head, at least. This is why our water bills are higher than they used to be. Now you can keep track of all those characters and sub-plots with Aqua Notes! :)

 

 

8) Classic Lit T-shirts from Out of Print

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Because who doesn’t like a comfy, book nerd T-shirt?

7) Fancy Yoga Pants

Speaking of comfy…

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Betabrand dress yoga pants are for days when company may stop by the house and the writer’s usual wardrobe of pajama bottoms just won’t do.

6) Vintage Writer Stuff

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Laptops are great, but there’s something about having an old typewriter in your office (even if it’s just an inspirational decoration) that makes you want to sit down and “bleed” (a.k.a., write) ala Hemingway. Keep an eye out for these vintage treasures at antique stores or on eBay.

5) Amazon Prime Membership

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Okay, so books aren’t the most original gift for a writer/reader, but given the amount of books these people typically buy anyway, free 2-day shipping is a huge blessing for any bibliophile.

4) Black Irish Books MegaBundle for Writers

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Black Irish Books is offering a pretty amazing deal (for the first 500 customers) that would make a great gift for writers who want to improve their craft and pursue writing as a career. The bundle includes bestselling books such as The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne, making this $35 deal (worth $200) a steal.

 

 

3) Registration fee for a Writing Workshop, Conference, or Retreat

One of the things writers want/need most are opportunities to improve their craft and connect with other creatives, not to mention the time and space to write free from distractions. Writing workshops and retreats can meet this need, but they’re typically expensive (and the majority of writers don’t make a living solely from writing), so why not give the gift of sponsorship? There are many gatherings for writers out there, but here are a few I (or trusted friends) have attended and can recommend:

The Glen Workshop

The Big Sur Writing Workshop

Pikes Peak Writers Conference

2) An Advent Calendar

adventI know what you’re thinking–but Advent calendars are used before Christmas. Yes, they are, which means they will be marked down on clearance the closer we get to Christmas. For a writer, those 25 doors with 25 pieces of chocolate might just serve as an extra motivation boost throughout the year. How? Well, 50,000 words is a good goal for the first draft of a novel. That means for every 2,000 words the writer puts down on the page, he/she gets a piece of chocolate. By the time your writer friend finishes the calendar, he/she will have completed a book! Hopefully long before the chocolate gets stale.

1) The FitDesk

Because sitting at a desk all day is really bad for you. Besides, pedaling all day will help cancel out all that chocolate. :)

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Want a gift from me? Sign up for my e-newsletter and you’ll receive my almost-apocalyptic short story, “The Queen.”