My Talismans

January 18, 2008

My friend Faith Hunter ( 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)


2 Responses to “My Talismans”

  1. Ibrahim said

    Wow! Real authors have doubts just as much as us mortals.Just discovered your blog. I’m an avid rider of the Foreland series, and its so cool to hear about your humble beginnings…Thank You for sharing.

  2. davidbcoe said

    Thanks for stopping by the blog! Yeah, authors have doubts. More than most people, really, since our careers are only as secure as our latest sales numbers. Glad you’ve enjoyed the Forelands books.

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