When I was a kid, I had a lot of collections. Rocks, buttons, shells, records, Nancy Drew books--you name it, I probably collected it. But my two favorite collections were my blue collection and my feather collection. 

One day, after a day on the water with my dad, we pulled our little boat into the slip. Dad tightened my life jacket and sent me off to play while he stowed the sails and straightened the lines and did all the other boring things. (This was the '70s, when parents could get away with tightening up a life jacket and sending a five-year-old to play near the water.) 

On a little beach not far from the slip, I found a blue feather. Not just a little bit blue, but all the way blue. It was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen. I loved it immensely...

...until I remembered my collections. Where would this blue feather go? Was it more blue than feather? More feather than blue? My young brain short-circuited, and I quickly abandoned my collections. All of them. I've never collected anything since.
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Blue Feathers

 

Well, not really. I guess I just collect different kinds of things--snippets of memories, song lyrics, funny things my kids say, bits of conversations overheard in crowded restaurants, interesting stories I hear on the radio. I try to find the best places for these things. A novel? A picture book? Non-fiction, perhaps? My brain still short circuits more often than I'd like to admit, but now I like it when things defy categories, when an idea or a character could find a home in a few of my collections. 

  And sometimes...every so often... I find just the right home for just the right words, and it feels great. 
  And sometimes...every so often... I find just the right home for just the right words, and it feels great. 

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