I’m running a new series of guest posts throughout 2015: Fetish Friday. Don’t get all sweaty in the pants—I’m going back to an older definition of the word, and asking artists to show us something that helps them with the ritual of creation, some part of their surroundings—physical or mental—that eases the path into the creative state, whether it be a location, a piece of music, person, picture, a doohickey, whatnot, curio or ornament without which the creative process would be a whole lot more difficult.
This week, we present one of my very good friends, author of several fantastic novels, teacher, academic, and short story machine, Doctor Stephen Dedman:
Confession time: I don’t have a fetish. That is, I don’t just have one fetish; I have several. More than a talismonger in a Shadowrun novel. More than the House of Lords. More than a national furry convention… okay, maybe not that many, but you get the idea.
That said, most of my fetishes aren’t physical objects. I have a rather messy desk, but I like to be able to write when I travel, and to travel light, so the only item on the desktop that is fetish-ish is my current favourite fossil, a beautiful ammonite with streaks of opal or ammolite. Having something millions of years old near my keyboard may not help me write, but it puts the process of dealing with publishers into perspective.
Music I use to motivate me to write includes Ennio Morricone’s magnificent theme from The Untouchables, which is the closest thing I know to auditory caffeine (the 1812 Overture can serve the same purpose, but I’m usually too busy conducting to keep my hands on the keyboard). Fast-paced film soundtracks and instrumentals help me to write action scenes; song lyrics provide me with working titles. I’ve lost track of how many of my stories started off being called “On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair…”
I’m not sure whether this counts as one fetish or many, but I have long been fascinated by the outre, the alien, otherness – and I keep lists of monsters, obscure trivia, weird beliefs, other people’s fetishes and phobias, a mental bag from which I can draw story ideas like pretty rocks. Of course, sometimes I have to wash my hands afterwards… and occasionally I feel the need to count my fingers, too.
And, of course, I have a fetish for books as material objects, not just for their content. Why else would I have spent so much of my life trying to surround myself with them?
Are you a creative artist? Fancy joining in and letting us know about that special item, object, location or cosmic state of being at the heart of your creative process? There’s always room for another lunatic in the asylum: email me and make your most excited Horshack noise.