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Friday, December 28, 2012

"You Should Write A Book," and other fantasies...

I am not a big fan of so-called "New Year's Resolutions." Never really have been. I think making such "promises" to yourself is more likely to result in failure-- after which you feel bad about yourself-- than success. "I'm going to get in shape and lose 30 pounds" may sound good, but most of the time we make these potentially life-changing "promises" in the heat of the moment and with very little planning... and by the third snowy day of February we feel pretty much "done" with putting on winter gear to go for "a brisk walk" at 6:30 in the morning. Not saying it can't be done, just that more people fail than succeed.

Over the years, I've had a number of people write to me (or tell me) that I "should write a book." The words usually come as a result of someone reading one of my blogs or articles online.

"Writing a book" is far from the same thing as writing articles. Besides, I have no idea what I would write a book about. Typically, the implication is that philately needs "introductory" books about stamp collecting for entice newcomers to join the hobby... written as "light" fare, rather than heavy and dull "how to" volumes put together by 50-year veterans who have long since forgotten the joy of sorting through a packet of random inexpensive stamps.

I am not even convinced that stamp collectors (new or old) buy "books" about stamps. I know we buy lots of "catalogues" and I know we buy "reference books..." but just plain "books?" For now, I think I'll stick to writing articles...

The reason I bring the subject up, however, is that I have felt "tempted"-- for several years-- to turn "writing a book" into a New Year's resolution, based on other people's recommendations. Whereas it may sound like a "reasonable" proposition, it's one of those ideas that's doomed to end up in the Graveyard of Failed Projects.

Anyway, rather than focus on actual New Year's Resolutions, I do tend to make a list of "things I'd like to do" during the year ahead. Whereas it really is just a matter of different wording, it feels more "welcoming," and less restrictive and demanding to have a "things I'd like to do" list.

Near the top of the list, I'd like to finish "cataloguing" my collections. It's something I believe all half-way serious stamp collectors should do. I'm not talking about listing every single stamp I own, just about writing a rough summary of what each collection is, what the "highlight better items" are in that collection, what the collection's approximate market value is, along with a couple of places or three where it could best be sold, in the event of my death. As we grow older, it's only fair to those who'll have to be in charge of "our stuff" after we die... and the stream of stories of "I inherited a stamp collection and have NO idea what to do" seems almost endless. I believe many experienced collectors avoid doing this simply because the task seems "overwhelming." But it's only overwhelming because we fall into believing that we have to include a level of detail that's totally unnecessary.

I'd like to move my Denmark specialized collection from stamp albums to stock books. A few months back, I wrote about reasons for choosing Albums or Stock Books for Collections... and I've just reached a point where keeping this collection in actual albums involves so much "page moving" work that I am actually avoiding keeping it up-to-date. I expect the whole project will take several years... but I need to get started on it. It will also give be a nice opportunity to "catalogue" the collection as I go.

I'd like to dispose of the material the "logical" (rather than "emotionally attached") part of me knows I will never get around to sorting or "doing something with." Even though I probably have 30+ years of life left in me, I know I am never going to "get around to" sifting through 100s of old album pages with older France to create a specialized collection of the classics. I know I am never going to "get around to" forming a Swiss cancel collection. I know I am never going to "get around to" sorting 10,000s of GB "Wildings," for a specialized collection... I can barely keep up with the "Machins," as is. Bottom line: I can barely keep up with the collections I am most interested in and deeply committed to... so I have no business harboring fantasies about new collections to be started at some future time when "I have more time."

Maybe that last one sounds a bit harsh, but my goal is to enjoy stamp collecting... and when I face too many "need to get done's" on my plate, it starts feeling too much like "work" and not enough like "fun."

And that is probably more than enough, for now.

Of course, I would also like to continue writing about stamp-related things, since I really do enjoy writing. However, I am going to leave the "you should write a book" bit somewhere in the background, unless inspiration suddenly strikes me, one day... at which time I will probably remind myself that my time would be better spent working on one of my existing projects.

What would YOU like to do (stamps wise) during 2013?


Madbaker said...

Great post!

My 2013 priority is to finish working through a box lot I bought back in July. Nearly there!

Then I want to consolidate my Sweden collection, which started in a single stock book and is now spread across several, plus album pages, plus stock sheets.

Then buy another box lot. haha

Ian - Norvic said...

My 2013 priority is to move to a new e-commerce platform, and we are well under way.

Then I will load it with plenty of postal history, but the Scandinavia, Saudi Arabia, GB covers, and ex-USSR countries will wait until I have had time to study them.

So the second priority will be to do some work on those.

But there is also another aim, and that is to spend less time online!