As you may recall (if not read Part I of this post) I was spending the night with my agent, perplexed about where to go next with my novel TOO DEEP FOR TEARS. She was poised over her jewelry box, having been inspired by a sudden impulse to show me things.
…Next she drew from the depths of the chest a jade pendant, which she put in my hand. I have always loved China (my mother says we must have lived there in another life). I thought about that as I held the living jade in my palm. It struck me how incredibly beautiful the design was, and yet, how that very design made it fragile with all the swirls and channels and intricacies carved through it. Yet again, it was strong with the history of China behind it, because a single glance called up the image of that country. Lovely, fragile, strong, illustrative: it was many things in one.
After that we just kept moving. It seemed the most natural thing to do. We went to ‘my’ room and she opened a cupboard. “I haven’t looked in here in years. I wonder what we’ll find.” She went pale at the moment. She had seen something-a letter, diary-that had belonged to her sister. We sat side-by-side on the bed and she told me a sad and troublesome story about sisters and sacrifice and love and betrayal. It made my head spin and my heart ache. But it also made me think about the sisters in my book. And then to create.
While she told the story, she’d boon looking off toward a carved chest on the floor. When she saw I was looking too, she told me to open it. I did so and discovered trinkets and masks and lovely souvenirs from all over the world. One very small round box fascinated me immediately. I recognized the design as being from India, so I took it out and ran my hand over the intricate carving. I breathed it in through my fingertips, closed my eyes and imagined the British Raj as it had been in the mid-1800s. I opened the lid and found a tiny replica of the Hindu god Ganesh, god of good luck. I’m not sure why, but I knew I was mes-merized by the Hindu world, not the British.
At the end of that magical night, my agent insisted I kept the things I had found (except the diary, which held her sister’s secrets). She led me to those treasures and gave them to me, and I found new inspiration that night. She gave me many things: more than I can count. And I will always be grateful for the woman she was.