Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Collector

I have a theory that all writers are hoarders and collectors. Go into any writer's workspace and I bet you are sure find some kind of collection. Books would certainly be the most obvious. In a game of Family Feud, it would have to be the number one answer on the board. Music would probably be high up there two. I'm certainly guilty of both. 

Another collection that sprawls through my workspace is my toy collection. Action figures mostly. The shelves above my writing desk are reserved for some of my favorites (pictured above). Basically, if my collections weren't so obsessively organized, I would be a few small steps away from the old lady living in some trailer full of trash and stacks of newspapers filled with news that hasn't mattered in decades. But it's not my fault. Collecting is simply part of the fabric of being a writer.

Writers collect all sorts of intangible things. Bits of conversations. Habits we've observed others doing. Faces of strangers that strike us as interesting. We collect all of these things and use them to make our stories  and our characters come to life. Just as reporters collect facts to give a better picture of the truth, writer's collect snippets to give a better picture of their fiction.

Yesterday's Collected Piece comes from the old lady in the Post Office who mumbled her way through the purchase of one book of stamps for 10 minutes without regard to the growing line behind her because she wanted a Holiday Collection of which the Post Office did not have. That's not the piece though...what made it into the collection was when she turned around and I saw that she was much older than the dyed black hair suggested from the back. But it was the bright lipstick that caught my attention and I wondered why it is old ladies wear such an abundance of bright red lipstick to compensate for lips that have gone thin. It's like a man with a hairpiece...it only exaggerates what you're trying to hide. 

Odds are, there will be an older lady with bright lipstick in the novel I'm working on because that's really what writing is...a mosaic of thoughts and images collected over time and placed into a story. 

1 comment:

  1. so true!! I am just about to write a thing about my need for stuff for a series on 'writers tools' ... sadly I am not obsessively organised and everything is everywhere which makes for cluttered psyche and crowded manuscripts ...