It’s a lot like collecting sticks

Photo by Débora Rousse on Unsplash

My daughter is a born collector. We can’t walk the dog around the block without her filling her pockets (and mine) up with twigs, sticks, and rocks. By the time we get back home, you’d think we were foraging kindling for an endless winter (I mean, we do live in Chicago).

We stack the sticks and twigs on our front porch where the ‘stick family’ lives. That pile is bonfire-ready at this point. Rocks end up in the pot below the porch (yes, the ‘rock family’).

These things she collects don’t mean much to others. Rocks — who cares? Sticks — kick ‘em outta the way. But to her, these things are wonderful.

Not all of them, mind you. She carefully examines each one before that decisive moment where she either keeps it or discards it. Rory is a curator (and very wabi-sabi at that — I like her style).

As a writer, you must be a collector and curator of words.

If you’re truly a writer, you can’t read a word that jumps out at you without repeating it several times (some of you may even have a notebook — digital or paper — that you keep a storehouse of words and phrases in).

You have no idea where — or if — you’ll use them. Some of them, you don’t even know what they mean. All you know is that you love them. They made you feel something and you have to hang on to them — just in case.

Then, it happens… The wondrous moment when you’re writing and one falls out of your mind and onto the page.

Plop… Just like that. 

Maybe it’s a peculiar word. You might even have to look it up. When you do, you’re shocked by how well it fits. How much color and depth and shading it provides to the piece.

And then you’ll go. Living your life while keeping that word family robustly stocked with wonderful, whimsical new additions.