I like the solid feel of things in my hand. I value a hand painted pitcher given to my mother as a wedding present, an ornately decorated jar belonging to my great grandmother, an egg scale used by one grandfather, and a bugle from another.
In these days of transitory things, of items from the dollar store, Walmart or Target that decorate your house and then are sold or thrown out with the vagaries of changing taste, I still value solid things from the past. Things made well, that are still useful fifty, seventy-five, one hundreds years later.
And sometimes, when I am filled with self-doubt about why I write, I remember that I really, really, really love books. Real Books, with a front cover and a back cover and bound pages in the middle.
Because writing, like so many things now, is becoming transitory. Blogs and interviews and emails and instant messages - it is all like so much dust in the wind. Pictures, too, are now hosted on online web servers, or kept on memory cards or computers or saved on our social networking sites. Will there be no more boxes of photos with names hastily scribbled on the back, so that future generations can hold them up and wonder who was that boy at the birthday party, and is that really Jimmy when he was five years old?
So for me, as we get ready to ring in a whole New Decade, I'm happy to say that I still like Old Things. Like this book with my grandmother's name written inside.
It has lasted more than 100 years.
And when I struggle for months and years over a novel, trying to get the words just right, I guess it's with the hope that I might be making something of value - something that will last. Maybe even 100 years or so. So that decades from now, someone from a future generation might pull one of my books from a bookshelf, carefully open the pages, and say, "Hey, my grandmother read this book a long, long time ago. Look! She wrote her name inside."
Wouldn't that be cool?
Happy New Year, Everyone, and may you all find things that you value.