Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Collecting Memorabilia and Displaying It

Memorabilia, the detritus of one's life and also the raison d'être.

In his article "Flights of Fancy" for the April 2013 issue of the Smithsonian, playwright David Mamet waxes eloquent on his collection of memorabilia and the stories behind the items. "My various workplaces are cork-walled and covered in remembrances, of the early motion picture studios, of the railroads, of long-forgotten politicals wars."

Now, most romance readers collect author promo items, which we call swag. So let's have it: What is in your collection, swag or memorabilia? And where do you put it?

Most of my authorial swag is in paper form and is in binders of plastic sleeves. I have one sleeve dedicated to each of my top favorite authors and then sometimes shared sleeves for author groups (authors who are friends, fellow bloggers, write in the same sub-genre, etc.). In each sleeve, I have signed coverflats, post-its, bookmarks, postcards, handwritten notes, trading cards, and business cards. Other than binders, I have totes, pens, chapstick, chip clips, compacts, pens, hand mirrors, pens, coasters, and writing pads, which I use every day. It keeps the memory of the authors and their books alive in my mind every time I see one of those items.

One of my most favorite items of non-authorial swag is the concert program and ticket of Zubin Mehta's appearance as the conductor of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. What a concert that was—a symphony :) of Webern and Beethoven.

Another treasured part of my collection is the set of five original colored prints of Regency gowns from the catalog La Belle Assemblée.

Here's a picture of one of my cork boards chockablock with memories:

(Click on the image to see a bigger version.)

Top left is Nora Roberts's annual magnet showing book releases by month as well as a calendar for the year. Below that is a small postcard of the Tibetan Festival I attended four years ago here. Under that is the aqua card from my husband that reminds me to "Listen Closely" because he knows that a writer is in the process of becoming. The rare Bridgertons bookmark by Julia Quinn hangs off the bottom left edge and is cozied up to a collection of four make-believe vintage romance novel covers. Above that is a picture of a study filled with warm wood furniture and lots of sunlight streaming in through the wide windows. This is my dream of a study to sit and write in.

"Park your car. Drive Fluevog." is a sticker sign that Canadian speciality shoemaker John Fluevog puts out. Above that are two wonderful memories of a Hawaiian trip: a wooden postcard with dolphins and whales and a wooden ukulele bookmark. Above the ukulele are three versions of my business cards. Below it is a bookmark by a person on eBay who designed my custom ex libris bookplates.

The bookmark from Titlepage and the occasional tweet by Odile reminds me of an attempt at an online literary disucssion circle with authors, a virtual soapbox that is a 21st century version of the Algonquin Round Table, produced and presented by Daniel Menaker.

Right above that is a bookmark from The Beau Monde, a special interest chapter of the Romance Writers of America. Next to this bookmark is a filligree metal bookmark of Sydney, sent to me by friend and author Anna Campbell. And right above that is my favorite button of all time: SquawkRadio. It was a group of five authors (Eloisa James, Connie Brockway, Christina Dodd, Lisa Kleypas, and Elizabeth Bevarly) who came together to create one of the very first online group author blogs. SquawkRadio was also my first introduction to the online romance community, affectionately known as Romancelandia.

Top right is the cardboard insert that came with my Jane Austen action figure—she came with a writing desk, quill, and a seriously fashionable outfit. To the left of that is a bookmark reminding me to "never judge a book by its movie," not that I am in danger of doing so. Below that is a post-it by fave historical author Candice Hern. Business cards from The Perfumed Court and Threadless highlight my current interests in perfume samples (including Queen Victoria's and Audrey Hepburn's faves) and crowdsourced, original art T-shirts.

Front center is my aboslute favorite photograph: My ideal of where I'd like to be 24x7: On a beach, on a sunny, warm, afternoon, sitting in a comfy chair with a cool drink on the table next to me, listening to the waves and reading a book. Below that is a lotion bottle wrapper from Island Bath and Body in Plumeria-Vanilla—Hawaiian heaven in a bottle. The button below that features some of the group of then aspiring and now published romance writers who used to frequent the SquawkRadio blog and the Eloisa James message board: The Bon Bons.

To the right of that is a gorgeous handmade purse of lavendar silk, plaid top, and beaded outline and handle. It's not a purse that can see heavy usage, but is a minor sort of a coin purse purely for your viewing pleasure. To the right of that is a tea bag packet from the tin of Fortnum and Mason tea I had picked up on my trip to London (part one, part two, and part three).

Top center is a picture of a completely chaotic office, where the mother's sitting under the desk and the baby in diapers rules the roost by commanding the room's computer. In his essay, Mamet laments the advent of the computer. "One unfortunate byproduct of [the computer] is the elimination of the physical artifact: the flight log, the sectional map, the postcard, the pin-back button and the poster—in short, of memorabilia."