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Bill collector, tax collector. Collector. Nasty sounding word isn?t it? Someone always wants your money. Don?t hate me, but I?m a collector too.

I?ll bet everyone out there who reads this blog collects something. My aunt collected figurines of angels. My mama collected salt and pepper shakers, and my daughter is trying to collect a shot glass from every state.

Up until about twenty years ago the only thing I collected was dust on my junk. Then one day I was at the estate auction of a neighbor I?d known all my life. He was a diabetic and had lost both his legs to this devastating disease. When the auctioneer held up one of his canes I knew I had to have it. But I didn?t have a buyer?s number. Quickly I punched my uncle who was standing beside me. ?Bid on that for me.? I said.

He did, and I now own the cane. That got me started. Now if there is an auction being held for someone I?ve known I automatically look for one of his or her canes. I?ve found a few and I cherish each one. The canes hold special memories of each precious soul.

Another thing I love about homemade canes is that they are all unique. I?ve seen swirling ones, crooked ones and all kinds with animals and serpents carved into them. Recently I met a man who was walking along with one of the most beautiful works of art I?ve ever seen in his hand. The cane had distinctive designs carved all up and down it and then perched at the top was carved an owl.

When I questioned the man, he said he?d been picking up sticks since he was a boy. Looking for ones that were a bit special to make into walking sticks. He said he was cleaning up the yard one day not long ago and the owl was looking up at him. I said,??You mean it was already craved??? He answered with a little crooked grin. ?No, I just saw an owl in it.? I love it.

It takes a special person to see things in a stick. Just like it takes a particular type person to see a story on a blank sheet of paper. I recently gave my next novel, (not yet published) to a friend to read. This morning I got this message from her: ?Sarah, I finished your book last night AND AGAIN you took my breath away!!! The characters are so real, I feel like they live next door. The ending was a surprise turn. I?m not sure just where your insight comes from?but I have decided it is a God given talent and it is meant to be shared.?

She said some other encouraging things about my work, but the one statement that really made me think was: Where does my insight come from? Good question. Sometimes I wonder myself. I just get an idea, and like seeing an owl in a useless old stick, I envision characters and mark their stories down on paper. I picture their lives and the predicaments they?re in and then start feeling what they might feel. I guess I try to get into my imaginary character?s head. Don?t ask me to explain that.

I also collect bookends. You know, the things that keep your books from falling over on a shelf. I have several pair, brass ducks, a huge bedpost that has been sawed in half, a beautiful set of hand carved elephants, and of course a set on old timey cast iron irons. These bookends hold the worlds most collected item: The written word.

Yes, I collect words, others and also my own. Boxes of my stories, poems, and articles are stashed away in out buildings and old barns all over our property. When I pass away there is no telling what might be uncovered. I love the words of a current country song by Band Perry. A penny for your thoughts, oh no I?ll sell them for a dollar. They?re worth so much more after I?m a goner?Funny when you?re dead how people start listening.

There may be a lot of truth to these lyrics. A writer spends a lifetime collecting words. She puts down her thoughts and the inner grumblings of her head, and the gut retching feelings from her heart. She notes life experiences, memories that no one else can pen. Yes, her thoughts are a priceless collectible item, worth much more than a dollar.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ane Mulligan October 4, 2011 at 9:12 pm

I collect antique hankies. They’re usable and affordable. :)

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