Francine Prose at the Virginia Quarterly Review:
It’s been almost forty years since I bought an image of Sri Ganesh, the elephant-headed Hindu god, from a street vendor in the Chor Bazaar—the Thieves’ Market—in Mumbai, which at that time was still Bombay. I’ve had the picture, surrounded by a simple black frame and protected by a durable pane of glass, on my writing desk ever since.
When I say desk, I mean desks. I carried the Ganesh with me through the moves and dislocations of my peripatetic late twenties. And later, when I traveled with my husband and two sons to take a succession of visiting-writer jobs at various colleges and universities, Ganesh’s portrait was among the first things I packed to bring along, the first things I unpacked when I came home. One way to know what you value is to see what you can’t stand to leave behind.
Of course, there’s no “scientific” evidence to prove that I would stop writing completely and forever if I tried to work without the calming, steady gaze of the half-human, half-elephant deity presiding over my efforts. But I’m by nature a believer in many garden-variety superstitions (no open umbrellas indoors, please!) as well as some that are purely of my own invention. I’ve always had a sense about the Ganesh, a feeling that I’ve never been able to shake and never wanted to put to the test.