Human Condition: Word collector hopes to be a woman of letters _lowres


It’s got to be one of the most idiotic things I’ve done. I’ve acquired an obsession, secret even. I’ve started collecting newspapers. And I didn’t even read them. Who does that, right?

There they were, just sitting pure as untouched snow. Each one carefully taken out of its protective plastic and stacked one on top of the other, there on the floor in my living room. A few of the newspapers have yellowed from the rain or a day too many on my lawn.

I began having The Advocate delivered to my house about three months ago. On a trip to Winn-Dixie, a woman had a table set up with forms and a display of the day’s newspaper.

She politely asked if I wanted a few bucks off my bill in exchange for a free trial subscription to the newspaper. Well, as a single mother, I admit I would take anything that will help me save money.

So I went for it.

Here’s the thing: I don’t really read newspapers. I never have.

So I sat there in my living room, facing that large stack of newspapers, their destiny to be read unfulfilled.

And in my moment of questioning why anyone would continue a subscription to something they don’t use, on some deeper level it occurred to me: I’m collecting words, collecting dreams.

Here’s another funny thing: I’m not a collector. I don’t collect fine art, bottle caps from the ’70s or even high-heeled shoes.

But I do collect newspapers.

I realized that in collecting these newspapers, it’s a reflection of what I’d like to be — published, an official member of the writing world.

I’ve been keeping the newspapers as a subconscious nudge to try to get published, to get moving, to create my life as the writer I’ve always dreamed to be.

It’s like anyone else who collects things. Some people collect elephants with the trunks turned up as a symbol of good luck. Perhaps these collectors are solidifying their desire for good luck and blessings.

Collectors of fine china must be appealing to a side of them that craves the symbolism of the upper-crust, an existence more fancy than perhaps the lives they currently live.

So I’ve become a collector of words, in hopes of becoming the writer I aspire to be.

And then I read them.

After reading several Human Condition stories, needless to say, I’ve grown fond of my newspaper subscription. I enjoy playing Sudoku and take advantage of the coupons. It’s made me laugh at the things we hold on to.

Looks like subscribing to a newspaper I didn’t read wasn’t idiotic at all, but a calling from somewhere deep within.

— Banks lives in Covington

Advocate readers may submit stories of about 500 words to the Human Condition at or The Advocate, EatPlayLive, 10705 Rieger Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. There is no payment, and stories will be edited. Authors should include their city of residence.