Routines and writing shawls

When I was pregnant with my son, I purchased a beautiful shawl handmade by a friend from handspun fibers. The colors are different shades of purple, highlighted with silver throughout. I love it. When I brought it home, my daughter loved it as well and wrapped it around herself for weeks.

My son was born in the summer, so the shawl was draped on my writing chair in my office for a few months until Fall came around, at which time it migrated down to the kitchen/family room where I would cover us both while he nursed. This is its fourth year it is in my possession, and I brought it with me to Frankfurt, Germany. It has resumed its rightful place on our rocking chair. During the day, it is well-loved and often used by the kids in make-believe play, as a dress, blanket, tent, and so on.

At night, when the temperature drops in the apartment, it’s my turn. I walk around wearing it, and when I write, it is wrapped around me. Like tonight, when I sit here with the shawl draped over my shoulders. It has become a part of my writing ritual, something I use to transform myself into my inner writer and transport myself into the fictional realms.

I pick up little elements that I add to my writing routine. With THE SILENCE OF TREES, I had a few cds that I would play over and over again, several of them Ukrainian folksongs. I liked to burn cinnamon incense or have cinnamon sticks nearby (the scent was important to my protagonist, Nadya); I also had a black river rock that I would hold (it was the inspiration for my protagonist’s lucky stone).

These kinds of talismans evolve from the visioning and writing process, and I’m a creature that craves these little rituals, like having the kids ring the Tibetan singing bowl at the foot of the stairs each morning. We brought that with us to Germany as well.

So this shawl has become tied to the writing process of my second book, and it will probably make an appearance in the book as well (that sort of thing always seems to happen).

It is also a part of my process for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. I wear it as I read my emails and write my posts. I like to think that it brought me luck for the semi-finals.

When I first saw the shawl, I could feel the love that went into its crafting; and each new memory I make while wearing it seems to make the colors brighter, the threads even softer. I know that with each year that passes, the shawl becomes more precious. I hope to someday have it wrapped around my shoulders when I am rocking in my chair with great-grandchildren gathered around listening to my stories.

I hope that each of you has something like my writing shawl to wrap around yourself, be it literal or figurative. A shawl, a sweater, a song, or a memory…something that makes you feel loved and safe and connected.

Published by Valya

Valya Dudycz Lupescu has been making magic with food and words for more than 20 years, incorporating folklore from her Ukrainian heritage with practices that honor the Earth. She’s a writer, content developer, instructor, and mother of three teenagers. Valya is the author of MOTHER CHRISTMAS, THE SILENCE OF TREES, and the founding editor of CONCLAVE: A Journal of Character. Along with Stephen H. Segal, she is the co-author of FORKING GOOD: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of The Good Place and GEEK PARENTING: What Joffrey, Jor-El, Maleficent, and the McFlys Teach Us about Raising a Family (Quirk Books), and co-founder of the Wyrd Words storytelling laboratory. Valya earned her MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and her poetry and prose have been published in anthologies and magazines that include, The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, Kenyon Review, Culture, Gargoyle Magazine, Gone Lawn, Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium. You can find her on Twitter @valya and on @valya

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *