Writers can be a superstitious lot. And while I’ve never carried a four leaf clover or worried about walking under a ladder, I do have to admit that I am guilty of a bit of superstition when it comes to my writing.
I have writing charms. It’s not that I believe they make me write better, or that they ward off writer’s block. They just make me feel, well, more like Christy the Writer with a capital W. No reason, really, except that they are important to me, and remind me of the people who believe in me and of the times when I felt most like a writer.
The first time I ever told anyone I was a writer was on my way to an artist’s retreat in Ireland. My writing had always been a closet occupation – most of my friends didn’t even know I wrote. I didn’t call myself a writer because I still didn’t believe that I was one. But something happened when I was on a bus riding through Cork. The bus driver, a lovely man I could barely understand, asked me what I was doing in southwest Ireland. When he heard I was headed for Anam Cara, he asked, “So you’re a writer, then?” And I said, “Yes, I am.” And realized I actually believed it. Because though I hadn’t been published yet, publication was not really what it meant to me to be a writer. What I understood in that moment was that a writer is someone who writes, who needs to write, who spends precious vacation time at a desk struggling over sentences instead of lying on a beach working on a tan.
It was there in Ireland during my long walks along the strand to clear my head that I collected my lucky stones. And I’ve carried them with me ever since. Through all my moves, and residencies, and house sitting gigs, they’ve always been nearby to remind me what being a writer really means to me.
Though I haven’t been able to hang my board everywhere I’ve been, it’s always with me, sometimes leaning against a wall, sometimes lying on the floor nearby. Long ago, when I christened my first dedicated writing space, my writing group came over and helped me welcome the muse into my new office. They each wrote wishes for the space, and I still have those good wishes tacked up. I’ve added a few quotes I like, and stuck a few other things up that mean something only to me. But mostly the board reminds me of the wonderful women in my group who believed in me and believe in me still.
There are other things I always keep around the writing me: pictures of my daughters, my first acceptance letter, a pink flamingo. Can I write without them? Absolutely. And I have. But I’d really rather not.