Sage Advice


When I was a young, aspiring writer, as opposed to now just being an aspiring writer, I sought advice from a variety of published authors. One writer’s instructions have since remained with me:

“Have one in the mail, one in your typewriter, and one in your head.”


The advice was sound, as it prevented me from committing a variety of writer’s errors, from walking circles waiting for an editor’s verdict, to making sure I was actually putting my current ideas on paper, while also planning my next writing project. The three-part formula kept my career moving forward, rather than stalling out with the arrival of each crushing rejection letter.



For even longer than I have aspired to be a writer, I have also been a collector. Just as I have written in a variety of formats, from newspaper articles and magazine columns to history books and historical novels, I have also collected various items: from nationally-known Arts and Crafts furniture and metalware to lesser-known Asheville craftsmen, including William Dodge silver, Pisgah Forest pottery, and Biltmore Industries carvings.

So, now I have applied that same piece of sage writing advice to my collecting.



One in the mail:  A pair of Asheville carved bookends I bought online will be in the mail this week, and a Biltmore Industries tray I just bought through an online auction should arrive the week after that. Each will have me eagerly watching for the UPS truck like a fidgety child waiting for Santa Claus.



One in my typewriter:  A tall Pisgah Forest Pottery vase is presently up for bidding on eBay, with me and 22 other collectors watching it. I’m having fun devising my bidding strategy, deciding what my maximum bid will be, and checking to see how the other bidders are responding to each raise in the price.



One in my head:  Knowing what to buy is even more important than knowing where to buy. Thanks to the popularity of the Arts and Crafts style and to the growing number of online sales, we each have more pieces to choose from than we have room for in our homes. Determining which pieces by any craftsman you want to add to your collection requires research, which will make you an even smarter collector. For example, Walter Stephen (above) was a prolific potter at Pisgah Forest Pottery, which explains why a quick online search will showcase more than a dozen of his vases and bowls. Rather than amassing cupboard crammed full of ordinary vases, I’m enjoying researching what sizes, shapes, and glazes are considered to be his finest work, then setting my sights on just those.


A collector’s maxim:  “Have one in the mail, one on your computer, and one in your future.”


Until next week,


“When you have a passion for something, it makes you excited to jump out of bed each day and go for it.” – Natalya Neidhart, professional wrestler and actress