Snails. I have a thing for snails. It’s odd, I know, but we’ve all got something… Snails feature in my writing a lot. My award winning play was called ‘shellakybooky’ – a child’s word for ‘snail’ in Ireland. My Molly Keane Winning story featured a sock stuffed with snails and my latest stageplay has snails’ trails predicting the future in their particular weird, silvery fashion.
I love the oddness of snails’ appearance, their independence (carrying their homes on their back) and the fact that they leave a magical trail behind them. I envy their slowness, their lack of need to rush (and wish I had that confidence of approach). And even the word ‘snail’ has private significance for me. So when snails appear, I feel the muse is at hand.
Today, I arrived in from the garden and a housemate noted a baby snail was crawling across my head. I admit not everyone would be delighted to find a snail in their hair, however, this occured just after I’d been told a story about Buddha’s alleged debt to snails. I’m not a Buddhist but the story appeals:
“During a severe summer, a group of snails crept onto Buddha’s head and shielded him from sunstroke, their horns drawing enlightenment for the Master. And these snails gave up their lives in the process. In gratitude, the Master bore their shells on his head for the rest of his life.”
So, having a snail on my head puts me in pretty serious enlightened company.
There are writers feel story and character ideas are fed to them from “somewhere else”. Clearly, that “somewhere else” is a very vague concept and means different things to different scribes. Nonetheless, writers who hold such beliefs say it is very important to allow your mind to be open to receiving these ideas – wherever they come from.
I find it a comfort to think that ideas come to me from some external source – and if that slow and steady, methodical snail is the one inspiring me or bringing me enlightenment – then I’m cool with the magic.