Writing can be a difficult process, and there are times when we all need some sort of inspiration to urge us on. So today the Chicks share with you the lucky charms, talismans, or knick-knacks that we keep on our desks to inspire and prompt us when our muse has temporarily flown the coop.
Meet Piggy (below). He is one-knuckle high, and currently the only trinket allowed on my mom’s enormous French desk, because 1. It is covered in To-Do stuff and 2. I am easily distracted. I also love my tornado-in-a-bottle “tchotchke” that I got from the Weather Channel in the 90s (with a twirl of the wrist, the snow-globe-type sparkles form a “real” twister!), but…like I said: Distraction. I took Piggy home from a friend’s funeral service last Christmas. She collected pigs and asked that they all be adopted. Piggy came with a beautiful quote from Winnie-the-Pooh (see photo). He reminds me to always be kind and keep in mind What Really Counts, especially when I’m stressed.
Los Angeles has a vibrant Chinatown where I used to buy tea and cute gifts for our kiddle. (The tea shop closed and kiddle is now nineteen.) Whenever I visited, I’d also buy good-luck talismans, especially around television staffing season, when I needed all the luck I could get.
On my recent trip to New Orleans, I bought some orange blossom water at a store called Haus of Hoodoo. I asked the saleswoman what to do with it, and she said that most people put it on their altar. Hmm, I thought. My collection of good-luck charms has always been scattered all over our office. When I got home, I rounded up most of them up and created an altar of sorts on top of my CPU. In addition to the Eau D’Orange, you’ll notice one item that’s not from Chinatown. I made a hundred gris gris bags to celebrate the launch of Body on the Bayou, my second Cajun Country Mystery. I couldn’t resist keeping one for myself!
A dictionary may seem an obvious tool for a writer, but a bit of an odd talisman. However, this well-worn pocket dictionary is special. It was with me through all my college term papers, always in my desk drawer during my years as a newspaper reporter, and has resided next to my desktop computer since I started writing mysteries.
My favorite elementary school teacher gave it to me for winning the third grade spelling bee. There’s a handwritten congratulatory note on the cover page, and I’ve always treasured it. When putting together this post, it occurred to me I should look her up on Facebook — I figured there couldn’t be that many people with her somewhat unusual last name. I found her! It was great for me to be able to tell her thank you for being a wonderful teacher who made a difference in the life of a shy, bookish third grader.
What does it mean if you don’t have a single lucky charm on your desk? I mean, I do have things that are very special in the vicinity, like the many pieces of art that the kiddos have brought home over the years. Those are treasures!
But the only talisman I’ve ever had was a round white clay medallion featuring Pegasus. I hung it over my desk during grad school since someone said that the famous winged horse was affiliated with the muse. Or poetry. Or writing. Something with creativity, anyway. Just now realizing that I haven’t seen it in years. Must have been lost in a move! So instead, here are a few of the aforementioned treasures…
Tlamati and RBG: When my mother was an anthropology student at UCLA back in the 1960s, she took a class in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. Later, Mom became a potter, and one of the sculptures she created was this one of Tlamati, which means “wise man” or “sage” in that ancient tongue.
So I thought it appropriate that Tlamati should have a place on my desk next to my action figure of our modern-day sage, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The two of them inspire me to be thoughtful and brave in my writing.
In addition to dust and periodic salsa stains, my desk sports a variety of items, including kid crafts, my prized “cereal killer” spoon, a humorously threatening placard, and this little number, front and center:
Gripping a coffee cup and surrounded by “spooky tales,” this custom-ish Lego Mini-Fig, gifted to me by the ad agency where I work, is the perfect representation of who I am. Actually, it’s the perfect representation of what I’ve always wanted to be: an author.
Lego Me is testament to the power of dreams, hard work and good old-fashioned stubbornness. And, perhaps most importantly, a wonderful reminder to keep what I want to be, rather than what others want me to be, in focus.
It’s also fun to play with during conference calls.
My glass of water. Not pictured, because I’m right-handed and this is a photo of the left side of my desk. It was staged, though, so I could have placed it in there. So sue me.
My to-do list. There are two things in this world I hate: forgetting stuff I need to do and having to think. My schedule keeps me out of the hate zone.
The calendar I use to keep track of my progress. Writing can be such a long slog that it often seems like I’m not making progress. So every hour I jot down what I’ve accomplished—word count, page count—whether I’m drafting or revising, and can actually point to forward motion.
You might think that ink pens are some mystical talisman for me, but, no. I’m just a pen thief who has run out of room in her pen cup. (And yes, before you clean your glasses, that is a trampoline I stand at while I work.)
Readers, do you have any lucky charms that you keep by your side? Drop us a note in the comments below!
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