Welcome to a brand new series of interviews here on the blog – it’s the STUFF (Shit U Find Fulfilling). Writers have rituals, and some of us find a particular candle, pair of socks, or background noise is the key to kicking off the creative process. I asked fellow writers what it is they find fulfilling in their writing life.
There might be some Christmas ideas in here for the writer in your life, as well!
Today’s guest for the STUFF is Kate Karyus Quinn, a chapstick addict with a love for live theater and a BFA from Niagara University to prove it. After growing up in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY, Kate left her hometown for Southern California and film school, where she earned an MFA in Film and Television Production from Chapman University. Kate is the author of Another Little Piece, (Don’t You) Forget About Me, and Down With the Shine.
‘Tis the season to be buying… if you’re struggling to find a gift for the writer in your life, or if you yourself are the writer in your life and are expecting to soon have some holiday cash burning a hole in your pocket – well then I have some suggestions based on my very own buying and wish lists.
FOR THE COLD WRITER
Not cold-hearted from cruelly killing beloved characters, but actually physically cold. Because I live in Buffalo, NY, I am often cold. But it’s not just the winters, I tend to also be cold in the summer when the AC is going full blast. So basically my hands are icicles, I shiver like a nervous chihuahua, and I am always always always looking for ways to warm up.
Fuzzy socks are wintertime essentials. I wear mine to bed or inside my…
I actually bought a pair of these cardi boots second-hand and have nearly worn them out in the year that I’ve owned them. They’re basically a slipper you can wear outside the house. And if that isn’t enough to sell you, then clearly we have different priorities in life.
I keep a wool blanket scarf on the back of my desk chair to wrap around myself when I get cold. But I have long been coveting one of these super fuzzy wuzzy faux fur throws.
I currently have about four hoodies in my regular rotation. It’s not enough. I will not be happy until I have a different hoodie for every day of the week. Hoodies are warm and great for layering and most importantly come up high around my neck to keep all those nasty drafts away. The hood itself is not just for decoration, I often pull it up over my hood and snuggle in for extra warmth. But the very best part of a hoodie is that it goes great with…
I used to be a denim or die girl. But now, most days of the week, leggings have taken their place. I prefer my leggings to be high-waisted, compression, with side pockets. I usually buy from Old Navy, but these Amazon ones are on my wish list because of their great reviews and pricing.
FOR THE THIRSTY WRITER
Hydration is important and I always like to keep a beverage or two at hand. Starting with…
This Contigo water bottle is the best water bottle in the world. I actually had another Contigo water bottle that I bought years ago and I left it at the gym. I was bereft when it didn’t show up in the lost and found. So I went to Amazon and found this new one that is even better – it’s stainless steel and has a little flip cap to cover the spout which keeps it from getting gunky when I throw it in my toddler’s diaper bag. But the thing that I loved about the old bottle and this one remains the same – the little press button to open the spout. It lets just the perfect amount of water out so that I am – not little drips that barely satisfy your thirst and not a huge gush that goes running down your face. This water bottle is my everything.
When just plain old tap water isn’t doing it for me, I turn to seltzer. Bubbly and LaCroix are my two favorites because the bubbles feel smaller and less harsh than other brands I’ve tried. I almost always have a box of seltzer in the fridge.
Of course, as a person who’s always cold, hot beverages play an important part in my life too. My two favorite types of tea are this brand of earl grey that has extra bergamot and this extra strong black tea. Both with cream and sugar, please. I also love this tea bag buddy and put it on top of my cup while I leave it to brew. Since I often sit at my computer while waiting and then forget about it for longer than I should – this helps keep it warmer, longer.
Tea is my preferred afternoon and evening beverage, but when I need to kickstart my morning (or afternoon or evening) it’s coffee I turn to. I am NOT a fancy coffee person, which is why I am totally content brewing these coconut mocha coffee pods in my Keurig.
FOR THE WRITER WHO NEEDS SOME LOVE
This business can be rough, whether you’re trying to get in or stay in. Since hugs are difficult to wrap, here are some other ideas.
Everybody needs a laugh sometimes. How could flying chickens not provide at least a few of them?
Sometimes we all need a little something for ourselves, whether that’s a little bottle of luxurious French hand creme that can fit in your purse or pocket (the citrus scent on this lotion is amazing – zingy and fresh), a large supply of ChapStick (the Medicated is my personal favorite) so you don’t have to stress when one gets ruined in the washing machine, or some refreshing Mario Badescu facial sprays (I have the aloe, herbs, and rosewater and use it after applying makeup just to give an extra fresh glow).
For when you just need to make the rest of the world disappear, these noise cancelling headphones should help.
FOR THE WRITING WRITER
Wait. What?!? You think a gift for a writer should have some sort of actual writing aspect to it?!? Okay, I see your point. And I have some ideas.
I love pretty notebooks and – for me – they must be spiral bound, this way I can fold them in half and write on the go.
I love extra fine tip pens – my handwriting is so messy, I feel like the fine tip gives it a slightly more elegant appearance. I also like to have colored pens on hand – some days you just need to write in purple.
These little journals only ask you to write one line a day. That line could be poetry, fiction, or simply something that happened during the day. I’ve been using one of these for almost three years now – more as a keepsake book to try and hold on to the little moments in each day before they go rushing by. Every time I realized I’ve gone a full year, the feeling of accomplishment is incredibly rewarding.