Thursday, March 06, 2008


Posted by Lynne Griffin

It was sky blue satin with the words I love you stitched in black across the center. I kept my little heart-shaped pillow in a drawer in the kitchen, where my mother let me have all manner of child's play. Things to keep me occupied while she cooked our family meals. My precious pillow was my birthday gift to every family member when his or her special day arrived. I'd give it away, only to take it back the next day. My gift giving skills needed work.

Skunkie replaced my pillow as my beloved object; parenting experts like me call him a transitional object. My stuffed animal was all soft black fur and had the signature white stripe down his back. His face was sweet and loving. When I later found out real skunks true reputation, I was amused, thinking about all the years I fearlessly hugged mine tight.

Comfort items. Loveys. Transitional objects. To a child, these things offer security. Literally and figuratively, they provide something to hold on to. Is it any wonder that in an industry where insecurity and self-doubt can run high, that I've had cherished items that I keep to see me through to getting an agent, to signing a contract for a book deal? Or two.

More than two years ago now, together with my friends at the Writers' Group, I attended a talk given by an agent who acquired popular nonfiction and literary fiction. This gracious woman invited all who attended her workshop to submit to her, when each writer felt their work was ready. I kept said agent's business card in a prominent location on my desk for five months. Each day I'd look at it, thinking at least I had one agent who would look at my work. Her business card was a talisman, my lucky charm.

Later I did submit to her and she did offer me representation. Though she isn't the agent I signed with, I will always hold her in high regard. She was kind and told me loads about the industry--and she gave me hope in the form of a business card.

I'm not a superstitious person, so I don't believe my success is tied to any such object. Should I lose the business card, or my little pink deli ticket, or the birthstone necklace I treasure, the one just like the jewelry worn by a character in Life Without Summer (the last two talismans deserve their own posts) I would be fine, I'd sleep at night. These tangible items merely give me comfort, they let me believe that some day my dreams will become, like these trinkets, touchable, substantial, real.

As I write, I can tell you that the business card has been safely tucked in a drawer, its job fulfilled. The little pink ticket has been placed in a baseball card protector, courtesy of my sweet son. And the necklace is in my jewelry box--you'll see me wearing it on book tour. My latest talisman sits in a paper holder on my desk. It's a small poem torn from a newspaper by my father, sixty years ago. Titled, My Wonderful One, I found this yellowed clipping in a letter he wrote to my mother. I'll include it somehow in my work-in-progress. For now it offers me hope that I will finish my next novel. That my story will find its way to readers. It's tiny and seemingly unimportant, but it spurs me on. It helps me believe.


Larramie said...

And it's those touchstone pieces that will put heart in your novels, Lynne, just as they did in this sweet post.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Thanks, Larramie. You are always there to say the right thing. I'll bet you have touchstones too.


Lisa said...

Isn't it funny the talismans that move us from one chapter in our lives to another? When I first started working in sales, nearly 8 years ago, I had a smooth stone with the word "success" etched into it. I can't remember where it came from, but for the first couple of years I was with the company, I carried it with me, often reaching into a pocket for it -- a literal touchstone -- when I went to do a customer presentation. Now, I keep newspaper clippings and letters from authors and I guess I use them for inspiration during this chapter of my life. Thanks for a touching post.

Anonymous said...

For about a year now I've been looking for a photograph that I took close to ten years ago. It was of a fire hydrant with flowers blooming all around it. It helped inspire my first novel in the early stages before I even knew what I was writing. One day I put it in a "safe place" and since then I have spent hours looking for it. A few months ago I shook out every book and journal I owned and was in tears when it did not appear. But, on Monday, while searching for an old letter from an editor that I knew I had kept, I found the photo. It was face down when I first saw it, but I knew what it was by the feeling of hope that bubbled up inside of me. There is hope that this novel will find a home. Thank you for your great post, Lynne!

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

I love that you keep touchstones in the form of clippings and letters from authors. I treasure every note I've received from authors too. If they can do it, so can you and I.

I was thrilled to get to the end of your comment and hear that you found the photo. Hold on to it, it will help you believe.