Somewhere in my cluttered workspace can be found a rather odd pair of figures. If there’s any kind of fetish associated with my writing routine, it’s those two. Yoda and Cow. When my grandchildren visit, Yoda gets to use the Force on Cow, who levitates gently. But most of the time the two buddies just hang out, watching me attempt to write.
When and where did this unusual friendship begin, and why is it important to my creative effort? Well, the story started long, long ago when I wasn’t a full-time writer but a manager in a Commonwealth government department that shall remain nameless. At a certain point the powers that be decided to move the department out of its centrally located building in order to save money. My team was the last one left in the old building, working on for months while other floors and other parts of our floor emptied out around us and other staff left their junk behind.
You can see where this is going, can’t you? At last my team was up for the big move. Not only did we need to sort and pack all our own stuff, we had to dispose of all the left-behind material as well. In a rush. A skip was brought in and a mountain of objects soon filled it – not only rubbish but coffee mugs, stationery items, framed prints, material accumulated by a whole floor of office workers over quite a few years. The waste was horrendous.
As boss, I was frantically busy at this point and stressed out of my mind, but I did notice when Yoda appeared in the skip, discarded when his previous human cleared her desk. Perhaps Yoda used the Force to summon me, recognising me as someone who would know he was no mere plastic figurine. Not long after I rescued Yoda I found Cow in a wastepaper bin. The two have been with me for around 14 years now. Cow is made of some weird kind of rubber and her body has perilous structural cracks. Without Yoda to keep her strong she would have fallen apart long ago. Without Cow’s tranquil presence, Yoda would be profoundly lonely. Together they make a formidable team.
I can’t look up from my writing now without meeting their combined gaze. Jointly, they remind me of the time when I was not yet fortunate enough to write novels for a living. The time when my day job was almost unbearably stressful. I think Yoda and Cow are as happy as I am that we left that workplace for ever.
They keep me writing. Yoda is supportive but always challenging. ‘More focussed you must be,’ he tells me. ‘Write better you can.’ By contrast, there is a sweet innocence in Cow’s expression. ‘What a lovely story!’ she moos. ‘I can’t wait to read the next chapter!’
Juliet’s Marillier's novels combine historical fiction, folkloric fantasy, romance and family drama. The strong elements of history and folklore in her work reflect her lifelong interest in both fields. However, her stories focus strongly on human relationships and the personal journeys of the characters. Juliet is a member of the druid order OBOD (The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids) and her spiritual values are often reflected in her storytelling – the human characters’ relationship with the natural world plays a significant part.
As well as her books for adult readers, Juliet has written three novels for young adults and has contributed short fiction to several anthologies. She is a regular contributor to genre writing blog Writer Unboxed.
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