You see tomato, I see dead guy telling girl to dig up tomato

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Ah writers. We’re an odd breed. Quirky. Eccentric, yes perhaps. I was reminded of this recently when shopping with a friend. We perused the aisles of a local antique mercantile when my eyes landed on a lavishly embellished elephant. I stopped, mesmerized. His colors and design suggested an origin of India or maybe even Nepal. I’m a sucker for that. In a *that must be mine* hypnotic trance, I walked over to it.

It got even better.

The body of the elephant was actually a box that opened to reveal another, smaller, silver elephant. WHAT.

My friend was tickled with how enamored I was with it. She encouraged me to purchase it. My initial hesitation was its price ($40), and oh, WTF did I actually intend to do with yet another knickknack? I LOVE elephants, but did I need another one, really?

I went back-and-forth, but of course I bought it. I would have paid $100 because what I didn’t tell my friend is that as soon as held it in my hands and opened its secret box…a scene began to unfold in my mind. A scene where a young woman is digging in the dirt near the Indian reservation where she lives. She’s been digging for hours, fingers bleeding, sweat dripping from her nose, arms aching with exhaustion as she tosses handful after handful of dirt over her shoulder, desperate to find the wooden elephant she knows is there. Why? Because it is time. Her Grandfather told her so. Her Grandfather who’s been dead since she was six.

This is the part of being a writer that’s hard to explain to *others*. My friend saw a unique elephant. I saw a girl digging in the dirt cuz her Grandfather’s spirit told her to. Kinda the same not the same at all. How do you tell that to someone without sounding like a loon bird? You don’t. You just say what I did: “I dunno. There’s just something special about this elephant. I think I have to have it.”

I once was inspired by a peridot necklace that came as a freebie in an ebay order. I don’t know why. I can’t explain these things. I put it on and happened to write great that day. No, I WROTE LIKE A FUCKING ROCKSTAR THAT DAY, and for days and weeks to follow. I became convinced the peridot’s energy had something to do with it.

I wore it for close to a year.

It wasn’t even on a real chain, it hung from a red thread. It’s a miracle it didn’t break, but I was genuinely afraid to take it off for fear the magic spell would end. But wait my lovely friends, it doesn’t end there. I shared the crazy love: it’s in my novel. My main character wears it, because she’s awesome, but also because I wanted the mojo to spill over into my book. (It’s not weird. Don’t make it weird.)

I also have a collection of small, vintage suitcases. Everyone thinks I just like them. That’s true, but it’s not the whole story. I also buy them because they belong to someone else. A character, one that has been sitting in my *character waiting room* (where there’s always killer music and awesome magazines) while she fully forms. She needs these little suitcases, because her trips are brief and she only travels by train. But don’t bother asking her name…she will just lie to you.

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Sometimes I feel like that little girl in the movie Signs who keeps filling the glasses of water. No one knows why, not even her, until they do.

If you are a writer reading this, you are nodding your head. You are thinking of your own amulets, totems, and fetishes…and I know you have them. They drive us, inspire us, and maybe, just maybe, even sprinkle magic fairy dust on our muses. So now it’s your turn, writer friend-o-mine. I showed you mine. Quid pro quo. What are some of your good luck charms, inspirations, or things you think are too weird to tell you non-writer friends?

My writing totem can’t wait to hear from you…
totem

17 comments

    1. Oh yes, music! That’s a great one that I neglected to mention, thank you! And you make a good point, one doesn’t have to be a writer to be inspired by things. Anyone with a creative fiber in their body will experience this on some level. It’s so cool to me. Not to mention the fact that it’s a common thread running through us all, bonding us as creatives.

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  1. My inspiration came from a few lyrics in a song. Immediately, I saw a girl, and I wrote her entire story in my head. Now if I could only get it on paper. Can’t wait to read about the tomato. :).

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  2. The hands of a stranger in a shop made me want to think about changing the biology system of a story I’ve been writing. Not sure how useful it’ll be to know the details, but I couldn’t help but want to use it somehow.
    My brother made me a wooden box and told me to open if I had writer’s block – I haven’t opened it yet, it’s almost like admitting defeat (but I do want to see what’s inside…)

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    1. Oh, I LOVE that. The hands of a stranger planted a seed with you that could change the biology of your story — that’s so cool. I can almost see it. Well, my version of it. And your brother is my new hero that he would do that for you! What a sweetie. BUT WHAT’S IN THE BOX??

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    1. YES. I know what you mean. That’s how I get inspiration for my posts that are about my everyday. And life certainly is a muse! I swear I think in a narrative voice 99% of the time! haha! Something funny will happen in our household and I’ll automatically be shaping it into a post and thinking of a catchy title….

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  3. Beth, I can’t tell you how happy I am that Inion found your blog. You have such a great grasp on the craft of writing; not just the craft but more importantly, the magic behind it and most necessary to create those amazing worlds we writers pull out of thin air. I like the fact that your lucky totem isn’t a pair of slippers or a family photo. Something that has been a constant and never changing. But rather something special that enters your life bringing with it all it’s energy and magic. It’s ….perfect!
    For me, I have two things that inspire. 1. My music. I put on my Nirvana concerts as I type away. 2. I have my crystal collection (which is huge) & sits in a lighted curio. Like yourself, picking up some from antique shops, garage sales. Some given as gifts and some priceless…handed down by ancestors who have passed on. Each one with,(like you said) their own energy and story to tell.
    Inion on the other hand, listens to classical & wears a real mini. 4-leaf clover encased in a pendant, to pull on her Irish roots. It’s odd to be sure, as she is most definitely the mature one of the writing group even though she’s the youngest.
    I have to tell you that while reading your post, I was relating to it so much, that I reached a point and was laughing when I noticed your words…”your probably shaking your head right now” And that’s exactly what I was doing. And your absolutely right. Only a writer could truly understand and/or relate to another writers mind and how they view the world.
    We wrote something similar to this direction on our blog a while back which is one of my favorite posts. If you get a chance, take a look at it, as I think you as a writer can appreciate the idea. title: “A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE”.
    Now on another note, Inion & I would like to notify you that you’ve been nominated, by us for the SISTERHOOD OF THE WORLD BLOGGERS AWARD. Inion told me she gave you a heads up, but we figured to give you another the night we posted it. So head on over and take a look, and once again, congrats Sis!!

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    1. THANK YOU! I did go check it out and left a reply on your sight, gushing all over you for that AMAZING honor, sisters-o-mine!!!
      I’ll also check out your post, A Different Perspective, right away!
      And thank you for responding to this post. It is a gift to let me into your world and tell me your inspirations. I love to get to know you better each time we correspond, fill in the Inion N, Mathair painting in my head. 🙂
      I adore that you related to this post. I knew you would! We have so much in common…it’s freakin’ my freak! I love crystals, too, Mathair! I have two by my computer at all times, and a wooden open hand holding a pile of special ones on my nightstand. And Inion, I’m also a fan of classical music (among many other genres, my absolute favorite of all being Blues). Chopin is probably a fave. I love piano, but very strong, powerful piano concertos (as opposed to what I would call elevator music). And did you say Irish roots…..omg…don’t even get me started…..I think we ARE kindred spirits!

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  4. Wooden boxes…and cats. My two cats are my buddies and, when they’re hanging out on my desk while I’m writing, they always creep into the story. And architecture, that one’s hard. I can’t take it home =)

    I totally get what you’re saying. It’s random things at random moments that spark the muse=)

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  5. YES! I figured I’d hear from you on this one, Jennifer! 🙂
    Architecture is a great one. I hadn’t thought of that. How cool. And it’s SO funny you mention kitties! haha! I LOVE cats, although (for the first time in probably 20 years) I don’t have one right now; however, one of my favorite cats of ALL TIME made it into my novel. His name was Mazri, so when you read my book someday….watch for it. 🙂
    thanks for hopping over and reading.

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  6. I have no amulets or trinkets or suitcases (*love* that you buy suitcases for your characters) – I only have my mind, and the threads it wends down until I am lost and must simply write it out of me. Sometimes a blank screen is sufficient. Sometimes the cadence in a stranger’s voice. Sometimes a word, read elsewhere. But most often a thought, and then like an ember when blown upon, I feed it with the oxygen of words and let it glow.

    Chopin, huh? And Eminem. Now what part of not-so-very-musical is that?
    This is good: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32Q1uT-cgV4

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    1. Oh I love the music! You’ve had that on your blog before, haven’t you? I listened to the one you linked and two others. I really like Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Very cool.

      I’m stunned you read this blog from start to finish! I love it, though. I feel like you just spent an afternoon with me and learnt me even more. 🙂

      No totems or amulets, eh? Interesting. Well, whatever you do in your head, you do it AMAZINGLY. I respect your writing with every fiber of my being!

      I cherish you. I really do.

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