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The Superstitious Writer

Photobucket [1]I didn’t consider myself as an overly superstitious person, but when Larramie at The Diving Wand recently asked [2] me about writing superstitions, I had a Come-to-Jesus moment.

“Your book is going to hit the lists, I just know it,” I’ll say to an author friend. Then knock on wood.

I wear lucky rings.

I have lucky pencils (Focus #2 natural wood for The Last Will of Moira Leahy; Dixon Tri-Conderoga #2 in soft-touch black and with a sort of funky triangular shape for my work-in-progress).

When I needed to write my second book but couldn’t seem to get the first one out of my head, I not only remodeled my shabby office, I burned sage on the concrete floor before the new carpet went down. This was my sister’s idea, but still, I was all for getting rid of the ghosts.

So, yeah, okay. I’m superstitious.

Maybe I lean on superstitions because I need them in my life, because I rely on the mysterious writers’ underground—the subconscious and unconscious minds—to help guide my story, plumb its depths. And depending on anything so unknowable freaks me out. Thus, the pencils, and the rings.

Tangent here, but I have to tell you just a bit about the rings. Photobucket [3]The ring I wear now draws a lot of comments; it’s a silver sunshine with a hollowed-out middle. When I saw it, I knew I had to have it because it was so perfect; one of my story’s main characters lost her central vision by staring at the sun. I feel like wearing the ring grounds me in the story, marries me to it, helps me to dream about it, solve its many problems. When I was writing Last Will, I often wore an antique ring—something I imagined the book’s antique dealer might’ve sold. I could only wear it occasionally because it would turn my finger green if I wore it all of the time. (Ha!) But after I finished writing Last Will, to honor the six-year journey, I bought a one-of-a-kind ring with etched waves that reminded me of the water themes in the book. If you’ve read the book, or heard me talk about it enough times, you know there’s a Javanese keris in the story—a wavy bladed dagger. The dagger in my book had twelve waves. So did the ring, as it turns out, though it wasn’t anything I noticed at first; I learned that after it was already on my finger. Stuff like that only feeds my superstitious nature. It’s like me and The Other have a deal. I believe, and in return I get these little gifts that say Thanks for playing, glad you’re one of us.

Author José Bergamín Gutiérrez said thatA belief which leaves no place for doubt is not a belief; it is a superstition.”

I believe in my abilities as a writer–even ringless and writing with the wrong pencil–but maybe José has it exactly right. Superstitions can strip away the doubt and make us feel invincible; they can act as the leotard, cape, and shiny belt in a writer’s closet. And so what’s wrong with that? I look good in a cape. I think.

Are you a superstitious writer? What are your superstitions? Write on!

Photos courtesy Artotem [4] and Sundance [5]

About Therese Walsh [6]

Therese Walsh co-founded WU in 2006 and is the site's editorial director. She was the architect and 1st editor of WU's only book, Author in Progress [7], and orchestrates the WU UnConference. [8] Her second novel, The Moon Sisters [9], was named one of the best books of the year by Library Journal and Book Riot; and her debut, The Last Will of Moira Leahy [10] was a Target Breakout Book. Sign up for her newsletter [11] to be among the first to learn about her new projects (or follow her on BookBub [12]). Learn more on her website [13].