There are collections, and then there are Collections

Pottery Mug

Mug brought back from Israel by my hubby in 1980

I’m not a hoarder, but I do like to collect things. Certain things. Like pottery. I had to sort through an outrageous number of pottery mugs recently, deciding which ones could be culled (to make room for more, of course).

In addition to mugs, I have pottery serving bowls, plates, casseroles, sauce dishes, jugs, vases and more. Not a huge number of items (except for the mugs), but enough to fill a few shelves and decorate the space atop our kitchen cabinets.

There are specific features that draw me to a piece. In mugs it’s the feel of the cup as I cradle it in my hands. Filled with coffee, it needs to feel right in my grip. ‘Right’ is a relative thing, I know, and now that I have arthritis in my hands, one criterion is that the handle be large enough to accommodate at least three of my fingers.

I also collect rocks.

Rock Collection

The criteria for them are similar to what I use to choose my mugs — stones need to hold meaning for me and feel ‘right’ in my hand. I have agates from the shore of Haida Gwaii, a stone from a roadside in Mexico, a piece of volcanic lava from northern BC, and  several more picked up as mementos of other places of significance. Many stones in my collection are ordinary-looking ones collected during walks along ocean, lake and river shorelines.

Rocky Beach

That’s about the extent of my collections. Well, it is if you don’t count all the Loons that appear around here, or all the snowflakes among our Christmas ornaments… but that’s different. No, really. It is. Everyone has a collection of special Christmas ornaments, don’t they?

One kind of collection has never appealled much to me, and that’s a collection of short stories. I’m not a big fan of reading short stories to start with, because once I get hooked by a plot and its characters, I want a long term relationship — hundreds of pages, please. I admit to having written a few shorts, but it was more as an exercise than as a chosen genre.

I believe writing good short stories is more difficult than writing good novels, simply because the writer must accomplish all the same things as in a novel, but with many less words. Nobel prize winner Alice Munro is said to have perfected the art of writing short stories. She always intended to write novels, but never found large enough chunks of time to do so. When she attempted them, they always ended up fragmenting into something shorter. I admit to not reading many of them. I intend to remedy that, not because I want to read short stories but because I think I ought to read hers. I’m curious about her writing. There are a number of her stories published online and I may start with them.

Last Christmas I read A Log Cabin Christmas because among its stories there was one written by Jane Kirkpatrick and I’m particularly fond of her writing. Others of my cyberfriends have joined up to produce two collections of Christmas novellas this year —  Hope for the Holidays Historical Collection  and Hope for the Holidays Contemporary Collectionand I’ll be reading those, too. Hey, don’t be calling me inconsistent. Like snowflake ornaments, Christmas collections are different!

Do you have a preference when it comes to the length of your fiction? What do you see as the pros and cons of collections?

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6 thoughts on “There are collections, and then there are Collections

  1. S. Etole says:

    That’s a great mug! I enjoy short stories occasionally.

  2. Darlene says:

    I also collect pottery. My daughter is a potter, so much of my collection consists of items she has made. I had to get rid of a lot of my collection when I moved to Spain but I kept most of her things. I enjoy a good short story and have read everything Alice Munroe has written.

    • Carol says:

      Now that you mention it, doesn’t your daughter have a studio on Gabriola Island? I can understand why you’d have a special attachment to your collection! As for Alice Munroe, I plan to remedy my omission! 😉

  3. I like full length, but more monetary reasons. Feels like I’m getting my money’s worth. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I like spending time with my new friends. Alice Munro, I like her stuff too. REad a lot of it in university.

  4. Hi Carol – I also like full-length novels. A short story tends to feel like 3 courses of a 5-course meal – incomplete. My own novels run between 90-95,000 words. Have a great weekend! Susan

    P.S. What great collections! I’m what I call a “mini-collector.” I keep my choices to a special few. Teacups and saucers and dolls are my favorites.

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