I admit that I like stuff. I wouldn’t say that I’m trapped by my possessions, or anything – at least not more so than anyone else. Still, I do consider myself a materialist.
A materialist is not a consumerist, though. I don’t like having stuff just for the sake of having stuff. In fact, I really like getting rid of stuff. I love going through old things and finding stuff I can throw out, donate, or list on eBay. The little clean spot that stuff leaves behind is something I treasure. I like having nice stuff. Just a few things, but of good quality. Things that last forever. (A lot of my wardrobe is thrift-store chic. It’s amazing what sorts of nice things people get rid of, and how handy friends with sewing machines are.)
I spent this past weekend neck-deep in a storage unit, going through stuff that got lost in my last move. Some of it was stuff I had actually forgotten about completely; it went straight into the donation pile, because honestly, if I never missed it, I didn’t need it in the first place.
Some of it, though, I was completely thrilled to have back, like my writing box and my other deerstalker. The writing box contains my dip pens, inks, wax, and seals – and yes, I do use them. In fact, I used to use them quite often, before the storage unit ate them. They’re high quality, foolproof, and quite inexpensive to use if you know how to make your own ink.
But the heart of materialism isn’t the stuff itself so much as the feel of the stuff. I love my dip pens because of the feel of them. Write by candlelight for bonus points. I feel more creative when I dip a brass nib into a pot of burgundy ink. I have no substantive evidence that my writing is any better with a dip pen than it is with a ballpoint, but I feel like it is, and I’m usually happier with finished pieces that started with a dip than those that started with a click.
That’s my general attitude toward life. Why settle for function when one can also have form? (Cost permitting, of course.) More importantly, why follow the form that’s popular when it’s not the form that feels right? I have plenty of jeans-and-baggy-tee-shirt days, but sometimes I have an Argyll-and-Oxfords-day, because I need to step back in time a ways. They say you should dress for the job you want. Can I help it if I want to be JRR Tolkien? I’ve been accused of living a never-ending game of dress-up, but when it’s been a rough week, and writer’s block is gnawing on me, and I desperately need to feel like an author, tweed and nice pens are my placebo.
And now I’m curious about other people’s stuff. What sort of things build the atmosphere you like most?