By Darvell Hunt
I always keep a silver dollar in my wallet. It’s no ordinary dollar, though; in fact, this dollar consists of two silver coins: a 1943 Walking Liberty half-dollar and a 1944 Walking Liberty half-dollar.
Yes, I know, I’m weird. Keep with me, though.
I carry these two fifty-cent pieces with me in the coin pocket in my wallet, everywhere I go. They are my writing talismans. (Or is that talismen? No, my spell checker didn’t like that!)
Each of these silver coins represents something totally different with regard to my writing, yet except for the dates, the coins appear to be almost identical.
The first coin, which is the 1943 silver half, I found with a metal detector in my sister’s yard in Pleasant Grove, Utah. This coin has probably been there in the soil since Americans actually carried silver in their pockets to purchase goods. The second coin, dated 1944, I obtained at a local coin store.
So why on earth would I carry these two coins?
Good question. The answer is not because I’m weird. Though that may be true, I feel I need to explain a more valid reason for me to carry coins that I can’t (or rather won’t) spend. Writers like me usually have more convoluted reasons for doing the weird things that we do.
For probably most of my life, if not all of it—or at least until I found it—that 1943 silver half was just sitting under the surface of the grass in my sister’s yard—even before it was her yard. All I needed to discover the coin was a little effort on my part, a bit of looking in the right place, and a lot of luck. Once I had all three of these elements, I was amply rewarded with my best metal-detecting find to date. This was simply a lucky chance discovery.
The second coin, the 1944 half, was obtained in a boring, straight-forward manner, that took an investment of time and money: Okay, I simply bought it. Not very difficult and not very creative. I knew what I wanted, knew where to get it, and set out to purchase it. This was a deliberate, methodical act. (Although, I had purchased the coin before I found the other one in my sister’s yard.)
Good writing is a combination of what it took to obtain both of these coins, which, when combined, created my lucky silver dollar. The realization of this contrasting combination has prompted me to carry these two silver halves with me at all times, to remind me of the two aspects of good writing.
So, if you missed reading between the lines, these are the two aspects of good writing as defined by my Walking Liberty halves:
First, there are truly great stories out there and always have been, just waiting to be pulled from obscurity. These are generally free acquisitions, but they must be diligently sought out. Great effort and planning may be required to find these stories, as well as a lot of luck, but once they are found, the rewards are great. I call this half the “something from nothing” aspect of my writing, or as some writers like to call it, my muse.
And secondly, great stories also require concentrated effort, hard work, determination, endurance, and paying the full purchase price. There are no short cuts--just good, solid work.
Without both of these, my lucky talisman would not be complete.
My silver dollar writing talisman is the marriage of truth, luck, and discovery, coupled with hard work, perseverance, and dedication—not necessarily two sides of the same coin, but rather two coins of the same dollar.