[Remember, keep sending in your questions to email@example.com with the subject line "W.A.W. Mailbox" and I will answer each Monday. I will use your first name ONLY unless you tell me explicitly that you'd like me to use your full name or you would prefer to remain anonymous. My comment policy also may mean one of your comments ends up in the mailbox, but likely only if you ask a question. And yes I will play along with your goofy games even if your e-mail clearly indicates that you are not actually Santa.]
Ho Ho Ho! Hello there Chris. You haven't come to sit in my lap yet, so I thought I would write to you. It looks like you've spent most of your time being a bad boy with all your threesome talks and hope for groupies, but your good boy moments are really, really so good that they seem to balance the ledger, so Santa is going to get you a gift. Now, Santa can't officially get you hookers and blow or hook up threesomes for you since that would shock the poor elves, you know, but Santa was going pay for a month of twice-weekly housekeeping so you could focus on writing. But then Santa got laid off in August and took two months to find a new job. Santa's own kids need toys and money's a little tight up here at the North Pole this year. Santa would do the cleaning himself, but it's been a while since Santa looked really good in a French maid's outfit, and the reindeer union says they only take me to Oakland once a year. Are there non-money ways I can support you or outrageously cheap gifts you might want for Christmas?
You know this is really weird, right?
This time of year, Santa, I always get two or three e-mails from people who are strapped for cash after buying presents and donating to causes that are much worthier than an 18th rate blog, but who still want to help. I'm a little surprised to be getting one from a thousand year old white male who runs an empire of slave labor, but whatever. The fact is that there are lots of ways to help a blog like this one even if you're not in a position to send us a few dollars. I'll tell you a few.
Of course there are the usual things I put here every couple of months that one can do to support the blog from donating a few dollars to leaving me a supportive comment, but these are some specifically awesome things you can do this holiday season.
You see, Blog's latest goal is to reach a million page views before 2015. Of course at 1250+ page views a day, we're going to make that almost certainly. However, if you're looking to get Blog a gift that will be completely unexpected, what we haven't done yet is hit 50,000 page views in a single month. Blog tried to hit it this last August (Blogust) but we didn't make it by almost 10k.
Go to The Best of W.A.W. or The Reliquary, find one of your favorite old articles, and share that on social media along with a few words about why you like it.
I can't share any more than I already do without my friends forming a mob chanting "Kill the Chris Kill the Chris. He's posted till we're pissed, and we're going to shove this pitchfork through his brain. Kill the Chris. Kill the Chris. Social networks aren't for this. And his blog cross posts have driven us insane...."
Well, you get the idea.
I may not get a single new click from your efforts, but my heart will grow three sizes, and Blog will feel like the happiest Who in Whoville.
Shill the blog, but (ironically) not the writing part.
The truth is most writers pretty much strike an, "Back off mofo! I got this!" attitude. They don't like advice. They don't want to be told they're not going to get rich and famous doing nothing differently. Getting them to read a blog about writing usually means they recognize the writer and want to emulate them or there's something else there they like about it. So if you want to shill effectively, don't say "Look, I've noticed you've been a writer for 20 years and you're still on Chapter 2. Maybe this guy can help you with some stuff."
That will get you a face full of side eye.
Try something more like: "Sweet synchronized tap dancing Jesus clones! This is a funny blog! And it's kind of about writing. Shit, you like writing right? Maybe you'll appreciate the funny bits even more than I will."
Commit to engagement.
In the new social media world order, our Social Media overlords of G+, Tumblr, Reddit and of course the great overseer Facebook will judge our worth not by money or loved ones, but by likes, shares, +1's, upvotes, and comments. Engaging posts in these ways helps them show up more places, so if you want to do Blog a cost-free solid, take a minute out of your day when you see a post you like to click a button and write a quick comment about how you would give up your first born child just for the chance to read my words again for the first time.
Or...you know, maybe something that's a little more your own words. And a little less bullshit.
As for a gift, I have to make a disclaimer. Among of my formative experiences was my mother running around toy stores looking for something to gift one of my friends that was equal to or more than the cost of what they got me. "We can't give Josh Ants in the Pants, Chris. He got you those walkie talkies. Reciprocity is the foundation of all morality. [She may not have actually said that part verbatim.] Now find a gift that is $29.99 or more. Or go back and get two Constructacons to add to this."
The foundation of all morality.... echoed in my head. AAAAAAALLLLL MOOOORRRRRAAAALLLITTYYYYY!
So now I live my life anxiously worried about how my gifts measure up to the gifts I am given, and I am really quite serious that the best gift anyone could ever get me is nothing, so that I don't have to go through that. My uberpeeps get me gifts and I ask everyone else to allow me only the pleasure of their company and perhaps some cookies.
So please, if you don't want me sitting around worrying about what to get YOU, call it a Christmas themed donation or something. (Donations are hard enough to ask for without a sense that I should be giving back something more than just writing my heart out.) I can't possibly return gifts to everyone who tries to gift me if I start opening that door to my readers. Even with as modest a readership as I have. There are several hundred of you. Even if I bought you all cheap ass keychains, I would spend several months worth of my spending money.
That said....here is an idea I saw that I fell in love with. Send me a book you love. Don't send me a copy of a book you love. Send me the actual book you love. You've been meaning to replace it anyway, right? Well worn. Lovingly battered. Lines running down the spine. Torn in places where it just fell to tatters under fingers that couldn't be careful enough for the Nth time. Then you can replace your book whenever you're ready to read it again or can afford it. I want to feel the Velveteen Rabbit love you had for this book when I hold it in my hand. That way you spend nothing, I get a book you love, and it has a very personal touch.
Obviously please don't send me some book that has extreme sentimental value. If I find out that I'm holding the last thing your father ever bought you before he died or something, I'm going to be mortified. But a beloved copy of a dog-eared paperback you've been meaning to replace (especially if it's one of those books you love that no one else has ever seemed to have heard of) would be a great
If you are interested, drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you the address of a friend where packages can be sent.
Lastly, Santa, I really have to give you marks for all the gifts you would have gotten me given an infinite budget, and socially permissive elves.
~sniff~ You know me so well.