Animal Writing Totem

The belief that everyone has an animal spirit guide is prominant in religions from all corners of the world.  From shamanism in the mountain ranges of Siberia to Celtic mythology to Native American Spirituality.

According to such belief, each person enters the world with an animal spirit who helps them throughout their life.   Along with this lifelong animal spirit, a person may encounter  totems who see them through particular trials.   Shadow animals may also appear to test a person, to make them face what they fear, and what they must overcome.

 I thought it would be fun to imagine what your animal writing totem would be if such existed.  (who knows-maybe they do!)

This exercise came to me because in the last few days,  I’ve compared myself  twice to a magpie when it comes to writing.   Endlessly curious- If I go to a website to research a particular subject for my novel, I will then follow another interesting link…and then, yet another, and another…

It’s hard for me to focus on one story because I’m always being distracted by shiny objects (ideas) everywhere.

   As magpies steal anything they can carry,  I steal inspiration from everything and anything I come across: dreams, poetry, conversations, books, music, newspaper articles, films, rain, the night sky, sunrises and sunsets, biographies, names on tombstones…

Magpies are opportunists-  and good stories are everywhere.

Further, magpies are symbols of otherworlds,  the hidden, and the mysteries of life and death.   Themes that often play in my works.

So, what would your animal writing totem be?   A wise, observant owl- perhaps writing omniscient?   Are your stories as clever and unpredictable as a monkey?   Is your writing sensitive and filled with the keen observations of a deer?  Do you write swiftly and freely as a horse?  Do you gently weave stories together like a spider?  Do your stories deal primarily with emotional issues like a dove?

Use your imagination and have fun!

Anne Bronte: The Courageous Sister

Those born on the the seventeenth of any month are said to be strong in spirit throughout the difficulties of life.

Anne Bronte was born on January 17, 1820, the youngest surviving child of the family.   One day, her older sister, Charlotte, watched over Anne’s wooden crib.  She cried out to her father to come, for she had seen an angel hovering over Anne.

This angelic image still lingers over Anne Bronte.  She has long been thought of as the “sweet, shy” sister.  The sister that would be all but forgotten if not for her surname.

As is often the case, Anne’s gentleness  was mistaken for weakness.  Anne’s sweet smile belied a will of iron.

By the age of  five she’d lost her mother and her two eldest sisters.  The remaining siblings: Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne formed an  enduring bond.  Encouraged by their father, they read voraciously and created their own magical worlds which they set down on paper.  While Charlotte and Branwell continued working on Angria,  Emily and Anne branched off with their own  kingdom of Gondal which was inspired by tales from Lord Byron and Sir Walter Scott.

Charlotte’s best friend, Ellen Nussey, noted Anne and Emily were, “like twins, inseparable companions in the very closest sympathy, which never had any interruption.”  Indeed, it was only to Anne that the reclusive Emily ever opened up.

Deeply religious and ambitious, Anne was determined from an early age to succeed at all she set out to do.   While all of her siblings had failed at their career attempts away from home, Anne used her faith to survive her two tenures as a governess.   First, at the age of eighteen, for the Inghams of Blake Hall, Mirfield; and later with the Robinson family of Thorp Green.  Governesses were not only paid less than the general servant or lady’s maid, but they found themselves in very lonely situations.  They were not part of the family and the other servants usually shunned them.

Anne depicted these experiences as a governess in Agnes Grey.   Written in a simple, down-to-earth style, it was deeply overshadowed by Charlotte’s Jane Eyre.   In 1848, The Atlas critiqued, “Perhaps we shall best describe it as a coarse imitation of one of Miss Austen’s charming stories.”  Douglas Jerrold’s Weekly Paper, while dismissing  the character Agnes as being inferior to Jane, did commend the authoress on her extraordinary powers of observation.

Anne used these powers on her second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.   Inspired by the horrors she’d witnessed of  Branwell’s addiction  to liquor and drugs, she wrote an unflinching account on alcoholism.   The general public and reviewers were outraged at the story of a woman who “steals” her child,  runs away from her alcoholic  husband, and finds love with another man while in hiding.   Realistic, sharp, and unsentimental, the novel was years before its time.  

It  proved as controversial as Emily’s, Wuthering Heights.

Anne was branded immoral.   Undaunted,  she set out to write a third novel.    However,  in September of 1848, Branwell died after years of alcohol abuse.   Only three months later, Anne’s beloved companion, Emily, succumbed to tuberculosis.

One year later, Anne was diagnosed with the same disease.    She begged Charlotte to bring her to Scarborough (a seaside resort that Anne had first visited with the Robinsons).  Anne always loved the sea and hoped for its curative powers.   Charlotte and her father eschewed the idea for Anne was barely able to walk by now.

Seeking support for her plan, Anne wrote to Ellen Nussey: “I have a more serious reason than this for my impatience of delay: the doctors say that change of air or removal to a better climate would hardly ever fail of success in consumptive cases if taken in time, but the reason why there are so many disappointments is, that it is generally deferred till it is too late. Now I would not commit this error; and to say the truth, though I suffer much less from pain and fever than I did when you were with us, I am decidedly weaker and very much thinner my cough still troubles me a good deal, especially in the night, and, what seems worse than all, I am subject to great shortness of breath on going up stairs or any slight exertion. Under these circumstances I think there is no time to be lost… I have no horror of death: if I thought it inevitable I think I could quietly resign myself to the prospect… But I wish it would please God to spare me not only for Papa’s and Charlotte’s sakes, but because I long to do some good in the world before I leave it. I have many schemes in my head for future practisehumble and limited indeedbut still I should not like them all to come to nothing, and myself to have lived to so little purpose. But God’s will be done.”

Anne and Charlotte set off for Scarborough on May 24, 1849.   Anne spent her final days enjoying the horizons of her beloved sea.

Anne Bronte died on May 28, 1849.   Her last words to Charlotte were, “take courage.”


Update: Novel Almost Done…

Hey guys and gals,

I really wanted my next post to be the one declaring that my novel was finished.   However, I just checked my email (one of the few things I’ve been allowing myself to do online this last month) and I saw this wicked sweet comment from Marian: 

Hey Tasha,

When are you going to start posting again? )

So I thought it might be a good idea to let you all know I am alive and kicking  writing.  (knocks on wood).  Let’s hope I don’t get hit by a bus now.  Not only would it suck to die… but really, I couldn’t stand to die with my novel almost done.  I’m sure my hubby would hear mysterious typings going on during the witching hour.  (I’m only half -joking here)

Believe me, staying offline has been maddening.  I missed reading all your blogs like crazy.  My consolation is that I’m  going to have tons of wonderful reading to catch up with. 

To answer Marian’s question,  I do plan on starting blogging regularly  this coming week and haunting all of your blogs once again.  

I think the month offline did do me some good.  The total withdrawal forced all my concentration onto my novel and I’m happy with those results.  

But really, a month is long enough.

So here are the brownies I promised you all I’d bake for ya when I returned.   Feel free to take as many as you like.  🙂

Published in: on January 24, 2009 at 4:41 pm  Comments (20)  
Tags: ,