I stumbled upon this post on journal writing prompts the other day, and one of them caught my eye. “Name a totally useless possession and how you came to acquire it.”
My first thought was, jeez, how do I choose? I’ve toned it down over the years, since I stopped working retail book shops and toy stores, but I’m still a bit of an acquirer. Right now there is a stunningly soft stuffed bear in a pink bunny jumpsuit above my head, a hard plastic box holding a purple and gold band hat to my left, a framed print of a bear holding a rifle across from me, and a bookshelf full of unread books and Todd McFarlane action figures to my right.
Useless, right? Well, not really. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, maybe it’s because I’m a romantic, but everything I have is useful. It’s fodder. If it’s not outright inspiration, like all the piles of books that I will some day get to, I swear, it’s fodder one step removed.
The art inspires me. The bear is actually a character from Remington Ridge, a picture book by one of my favorite artists, Ben Walker. The bear is staring at the artist with all the seriousness of a Wild West gunslinger facing a camera for the first time. There’s a certain gravitas paired with whimsy to him that I try to inject into all my writing.
The band hat represents the fodder that is my life. I’m a Halloween fiend, and one year I dressed as Adam Ant as I ran around town in a city-wide game of tag called Journey to the End of the Night. The hat came with the jacket that I modded. I’m keeping it, because band hat! Who knows what costume that will morph into come October?
I bought two of the pink bunny bears when one of my best friends had her first baby girl, and kept one for plainly sentimental reasons. For my first Halloween, my loving mother dressed me up in a pink bunny footie pajama outfit. I haven’t been able to top that one yet.
All of these things inspire me. They all represent memories that, as a writer, will someday get chopped up and regurgitated into something new. So, useless? I don’t have anything that’s useless.
I bet a hoarder would say that as well, huh? Don’t worry, I can still see all the walls and no animals or small children have gone missing. Yet.