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Friday, July 19, 2013



Photo Courtesy of Neha Bhargava
     Do you walk under ladders? Step on cracks in the sidewalk? Pat the rabbit that’s been eating your lettuce instead of giving the lucky foot dangling from your keychain a good luck rub? Adopt any black cat who walks in front of you? Declare number thirteen doesn’t scare you? Most airlines don’t have a 13th row and buildings usually avoid a 13th floor and it’s said President Franklin Delano Roosevelt always made sure there were more than 13 people at a meeting.
     Superstition is often thought of as silly—perhaps resulting from a mysterious dread of the unusual and exotic—and held at bay by good luck charms and comforting rituals. Claim you’re not, superstitious? Never? Not at all? Not the least little bit?
     That’s what I thought until I realized that I still snail mail articles to a publisher who has accepted many of my pieces. Though they’ve accepted work by email for years, I began working with them when they only read snail mail. Guess I’m...Yes...superstitious about breaking the chain. Superstitions are usually practiced in circumstances that entail possibility, uncertainty and luck. Submissions to an editor or publisher—known and unknown—fit that description.
     I’ve read that A.S. Byatt—the Booker Prize winning author keeps her collection of glass paperweights, pumice from Iceland, a collection of insects from North America and a dish of snail shells close at hand when she’s writing in her attic. Carson McCullers would write in the same lucky sweater—did she write every day? Isabel Allende is reputed to begin every book on January 8—her first novel, The House of Spirits was set in motion on that date. Before beginning to write, the poet, Edith Sitwell would rest in an open coffin. A bit extreme in my opinion but it worked for Sitwell.
     How about you? No chocolate, no matter how much you crave a bar, until your novel is under contract? Refrain from talking about the book with relatives and friends until every i is dotted? Must you drink from a favorite mug before you face your computer or laptop? Is what you wear important to you, can you create without wearing a favorite shirt, tie or piece of lingerie? Does the color matter? Do you finger a lucky charm while contemplating a character’s next action? Did you press a four leaf clover in your favorite book? Is Stevie Wonder song Very Superstitious Writing on the Wall a favorite recording?


Anne Marie Becker said...

Interesting topic... but who came up with the no chocolate until there's a signed contract? Yikes! LOL I don't think I have any superstitions, writing or otherwise. What I have are probably more like compulsions...I like to clear my inbox before focusing on writing, I write better with a clean house (though, thankfully, that's not a necessity), I don't announce a new book release until I have a contract, etc. ;)

Elise Warner said...

Do you think about your characters while you clean, Anne Marie? I don't even talk about an article until I have a contract. Hey--you never know.

Rita said...

Not superstitious. Maybe I'd do better if I was.

Cathy Perkins said...

I notice things like the 13th floor or row 13 of an airplane, but I can't say I plan around them.

And I'm with Anne - who made up that deal with no chocolate (or wine or whatever) until there's a signed contract??

Shelley Munro said...

I'm not really superstitious, but I think it makes good sense not to walk under a ladder. Things could fall on your head!

Chong said...


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