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A Writer's Jottings

Writers and Their Talismans

After viewing Joan Didion's desk items to be auctioned soon at Stair & Co. in Hudson, New York, I began thinking about writers and their talismans, tokens, and the other things we need nearby as we sit at our computers arranging and re-arranging words.


It was interesting but not surprising to see pens, paperweights, boxes for paperclips, magnifying glasses, an antique inkstand with a blotter, and a music box in the shape of a typewriter that once played "I'm Going to Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter."


It made me take another look at what I have around me when I work. There is the wooden African female figure with an overly enlarged head--exactly the way I feel when I write. Then there are gifts from my husband Robert--a heartwarming red glass heart and an encouraging little jar that says "write." And there's the silver paperclip box engraved with angels and the carved black stones I use as paperweights. And the white orchid.

We writers need all the comfort and inspiration we can get during the long hours spent working away by ourselves. Looking up from a keyboard to glimpse an item of beauty, nostalgia, or amusement is a way to keep going. And to easily reach an object to fasten or hold down a piece of paper is a way to keep us in our desk chairs. Unlike the ephemeral words moving around in our heads, these tangible objects with physical presences and practical purposes are oddly important to us.



Talismans On and Around Joan Didion's Desk


Her metal music box in the shape of an old typewriter is pictured here along with framed photographs of the writer.


Among other items in the auction are blank notebooks, a leather-bound journal, a clipboard, a large unabridged Random House dictionary on a stand, artwork, and books by Didion and her favorite authors. The auction date is November 16th, 2022.

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