How your own quirks can help your writing

chairI’m a hoarder.

You wouldn’t know it by looking.

Not the kind that has to climb over piles of things to get into the house – but I hang on to things longer than I should. I hang onto things that other people wouldn’t.

This is because everything has a story, a connection to an event or person or point in my life and so I find it difficult to let go. I’m getting better but I’m not good.

I recently read an article about attributing meaning to an item to help build your fiction. I have talked about my interest in immersive writing and this tool could assist in providing that experience. Linking objects to the story or using objects in the story, can be a way of bringing the reader in. The use of everyday items can help ground them, particularly in a different world or different culture.

For me everything has some meaning. For example, I cried when we threw out my grandfather’s saw horse. It was no longer even distinguishable as the thing it was created to be. It was actually disintegrating and sitting on the trailer to go to the tip it looked just like a pile of old wood. Nothing special at all.

But for me it was the memory of it in my grandfather’s back yard as well as his use of it. It was a connection to the past, to my childhood. Many days were spent running around that yard, or climbing the trees that grew within it and the saw horse was always in the background, a familiar fixture in that setting.

This is just one example. I have furniture and trinkets that date back further than my grandparents. And of course I have lots of stuff I have bought myself during my own travels and adventures. These items form links to the stories of those people, places and times.

Some say that I need to learn to let go. But I can use that hoarding trait for a character or story. I can link something to a memory or event. I can use it as a trigger for a flashback or conversation in my story. Use it as an aid to describe a character or give insight into her world or personality.

Do you have special items that you could use in your writing, or could you take something ordinary (like the saw horse) and make it something special in your story?