Sunday, November 21, 2010

Saints or Trolls: Take Your Pick for a Prosperous Writing Career

Talismans, rituals, lucky charms, muses and saints are often used in time of need; to help provide hope and direction. Whether it’s to bring luck, gain inspiration, prosper, ensure safety, or to help through a troubling time, the reasons are endless. If it doesn’t hurt anyone, why not?

And writers are no different. Some have a special pen or coffee mug. Some keep a lucky troll on their desk (apparently the fuzzy-haired guy works for Bingo players, as well).

When the stress and anxiety of waiting for a ‘yes’ from an agent, editor or publisher sends you to your knees, wailing and praying to anybody or anything, why not pick a saint? If not for luck then, at least, for inspiration and guidance. It won’t hurt anyone or anything, and the worst that can happen is your cat thinks you’re nuts while he sits watching you wail, pray and beg to thin air - or so he thinks.

A good one to pick is St. Francis de Sales (1567 – 1622), Patron Saint to Writers. As Bishop of Geneva in 1602, he wrote Treatise of the Love of God and Introduction to the Devout Life. These writings, as well as many others, brought instant acclaim, and were translated to several languages. His writings are said to have influenced the revival of French Catholicism in the 17 century.

Sounds like they should have had the New York Times Bestseller list back then; he likely would have been on it for sure.

Another good one is John of God (1495 – 1550), Patron Saint of Booksellers and Printers. After serving in the army, he turned to religion, and had a ‘vision.’ Given his love of reading, he felt the need to share his love of books with others, and pedalled religious books. His successes lead him to open a book shop in Granada. For reasons unknown, he went mad, ran through the streets tearing out his hair and gave away his stock of books.

Um....maybe that’s not a good one to pick.

Can’t find that coveted piece of paper bearing the greatest word, idea, sentence or plot you ever came up with? Pray to Anthony of Padua (1193-1231), Patron Saint of Lost Articles.

Too busy meeting deadlines to cook meals? St. Zita (or Sitha) (1218-1272), Patron Saint of Housekeepers, might be able to help in that area. She worked for an Italian family from age 12 until her death at age 60. Mistreated by the family for many years, she eventually earned their respect through her loyalty, devotion, and commitment; her faith kept her strong.

If lasagna doesn’t magically appear, maybe find a lamp with a genie.

Praying to St. Jude (1st century), Patron Saint of Hopeless Cases, might seem like a good, proactive idea. But stop. That would only be counter-productive calling yourself a hopeless case. You are not. Remember: you are a writer. Have faith in yourself - and keep writing.

And if all else fails, stick with trolls.
At least you can comb their hair.


  1. I have to have a Buddha on my desk and real flowers if at all possible. I'm very fussy. I have to start with a clean area - knowing at the end of the writing session it will be a mess.

    I like your long haired troll. I wonder if my Buddha would mind a partner?

  2. I once bought a poster of an illuminated-manuscript page because it was of the letter R (my initial) and Saint Catherine was writing in a book. She also had great hair, a crown and – unfortunately I didn't notice this until I'd hung the poster – a knife sticking out of her chest.

    Turns out she's an even better metaphor for writing than I realized, except for the great hair.

  3. I have several talismans. One is a poofy-haired longnecked bird holding a sign that says: "I live in my own little world, that's okay, they know me here."

    But then, I also have a sign over my office door that says "Out of my mind, back in five minutes" (a gift from daughter #2 - family - how would we manage to keep our egos in check without them?)

    Great post, Lisa (but then you've always been a fine writer!)


  4. Jodie: I will try to find a troll to keep your Buddha company! Don't forget to rub his belly! Keep writing!

    Rachel: Love the bit about Saint Catherine with the knife in her chest! Not that there is anything to love about a knife in one's chest, but heck, you are right - what a great metaphor for writing. But yes, you are right - at least she has great hair.

    Bonnie: Thank you for writing! Will have to find a sign like that for my own little 'office'. Yes, gotta love family. Best wishes in your continued success - hope to see you soon!