the chapbook tradition

“In these straitened times, how about taking a leaf out of the Victorians’ book and presenting friends and family with pamphlets of our own literary endeavours during the festive season?”

— Books | guardian.co.uk.

This article points out the long and storied tradition of giving handmade chapbooks as Christmas gifts. Is it seeing a modern resurgence? Perhaps. Part of me hopes so. What’s nicer than getting several hours of peace, alone with words and your imagination? Especially in winter. A cup of tea, a little escape from the world, a psychic connection to someone else.

But as a writer, I caution against it, unless you’re one of those rare people who can give and let go, without investment in feedback. (I’m getting there, slowly.)

Or maybe you just have to be a better writer than I am. You see, I tried this myself a couple of years ago, and never heard back – for good or ill – from anyone. I had forgotten the old maxim that a writer’s family and close friends are not necessarily his/her audience.

So if you enjoy sitting by the tree on Christmas morn and hearing loved ones exclaim, “Oh wonderful! It’s just what I wanted!” then you’re best off getting them just what they want. Or at least something that makes that coveted response a little easier to affect. … Like socks.

That being said, if you have received such a gift from a creative giver this Christmas, read it soon, for crying in the dirt. Then give them a call. Writing is a labor of love and it’s hard to do; at least as hard as shopping.

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