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My Talismans

My friend Faith Hunter (faithhunter) posted today on the talismans (Talismen?) she places on her computer to keep the techno-gremlins at bay.  It got me thinking about the charms I have on my computer.  There are two in particular that I look at every day.  Neither has anything to do with the workings of my computer (though, now that I say that, I think I should find something, as an offering to keep the computer gods happy).  Rather, they remind me of the earliest days of my career, when I wondered if I'd ever really make it as a writer.

I'm a refugee from academia and I actually gave up an academic job to pursue what was, at the time, just the chance of a promise of a possible book contract from Tor.  Not much to go on.  I had a conversation with my Mom in the midst of making this decision.  She thought I was making a terrible mistake, throwing away six years of graduate school and a great job for something she saw as dubious at best.  The conversation quickly degenerated into a fight.  The next morning, I happened to glance at my horoscope in the local paper.  I'm not a big one for reading horoscopes, but this one caught my eye.  Here's what it said:  "What began as mere fantasy undergoes metamorphosis, becomes real.  Hunch pays off, you win by adopting unorthodox procedures.  Those who say it can't be done will be startled by results.  Aquarian involved."  

Oh, yeah:  forgot to mention that my Mom was an Aquarius.

That horoscope, yellowed now, despite the fact that it's completely sealed in plastic, is taped to the base of my monitor.

That same summer, not long after I signed my first contract with Tor, Nancy and I went to New Mexico for a week.  We visited the Acoma pueblo and while we were there I found a tiny little sculpture of The Storyteller, the mythic figure of the pueblo culture who passed on stories to children, keeping alive the oral history traditions of the Native American peoples.  The Storyteller is usually depicted as a large woman surrounded by small children, who perch on her knees, on her lap, on her shoulders.  This particular sculpture had been done by a little girl -- her mother sold pottery and she wanted to sell something, too.  At the time I was still wrestling with the decision I'd made, still wondering if I had made a mistake in giving up my academic future to pursue something so uncertain.  I saw this little sculpture and knew immediately that I wanted to have it on my desk, that it would be a symbol of sorts for what I'd decided to do with my life.  It's a simple piece, made out of clay of course.  I've dropped it or knocked it over a hundred times and it's still in one piece.  Symbolic indeed.

Anyway, those are the talismans I have on my desk.


Today's music:  Nickel Creek (Nickel Creek)

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
afraclose
Jan. 18th, 2008 05:56 pm (UTC)
I've come to think that talismans are crucial to the writing process. My own desk is littered with them, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
davidbcoe
Jan. 19th, 2008 06:59 pm (UTC)
I agree. I have other stuff on my desk, as well. But those are the two things that mean the most to me. Thanks for the comment.
faithhunter
Jan. 19th, 2008 12:26 am (UTC)
evening David...
I am totally honored.
Tho I have to say -- your totems sound far more advanced my farting dog...
Faith Hunter
davidbcoe
Jan. 19th, 2008 07:00 pm (UTC)
Re: evening David...
Thanks for the comment. But, Faith, really, how could anything be more interesting than the farting dog...?
wldhrsjen3
Jan. 19th, 2008 11:23 pm (UTC)
I love this post! Your talismans are inspiring.

Right now my desk is littered with horse stuff - an old shoe from a plow horse that must have worked this farm at least a hundred years ago (it reminds me of perseverance, for some reason), a twist of horse hair from my first horse (reminds me that dreams do come true) and the plastic tags from the mustangs I adopted (reminders of the importance of patience.)
davidbcoe
Jan. 20th, 2008 05:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the comment. This will sound weird in a time when our lives seem to be dominated too much by "things", and our culture is drowning in materialism, but I think at times we undervalue the little stuff lying around our house. I have lots of what my parents used to call "tsatskes" (Yiddish -- sounds like Choch-kas; meaning little things of little value, though that usually means little monetary value) lying around. I love them all; I find them comforting.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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