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.
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…