Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jinx!

I'm quite a superstitious writer. Certain things need to be done in certain ways, or I just know I'll struggle with my daily output. The butt cushion must be set just so; the chocolate-stained blanket wrapped a specific way. And the empty coffee cup? Don't even think of washing it until my writing day's done, because that will surely be disaster.

It's my own little way of controlling the very uncontrollable world of being a writer. Because... so many things in the world of publishing are out of our control. We can write the best book we can -- and all agents might reject it. We can get published -- and no-one might buy it. We can sell fifty novels and then get dropped by our publisher.

Depressing? Well, yes, in a way. But the unpredictable world of writing means plenty of opportunities also exist. And whatever we can't control, we can control our writing. Just make sure to turn your chair a fraction of an inch to the right, rub the magic mug three times, and tap your pencil for one minute on the desk...

Giveaway alert! Go here to enter to win a copy of India Drummond's Ordinary Angels.

68 comments:

  1. :-D The picture in my head now, it's almost a female Scrooge, have you got fingerless gloves on too?

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  2. Ha...we all have our necessary quirks : )

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  3. I don't have superstitions like that, but I absolutely cannot write with Times New Roman. It irritates worse than a pebble in the shoe. Stupid, I know, but there you have it.

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  4. I'm funny about washing out my coffee mug until I'm done writing too. I even have to have my Firefox tabs in a certain order.

    And my music. Don't get me started on the music I need while writing...

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  5. Oh bananas do I hear you on this one! Since I'm still querying agents, every single time I hit send is a cue for me to begin the 'I will not look at the screen while it loads my new email messages' or 'I will check my email ONLY on the hour, every other hour' or 'If I get another 1500 words written before I check my email there will be a request' regime...

    Of course, if I get a rejection, I don't really blame it on not having opened and closed my computer three times before looking at my email. But then, I sort of do, because since agents keep telling me that I'm like 'this close' to making it, I tend to be even MORE superstitious about why I might have gotten rejected. Like maybe someone they hated as a kid had the same name as one of my characters or some equally ludicrous thing.

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  6. I love that you say we can control our writing. I do have to have my iTunes WIP playlist on before I start writing. I also find I write better sat on my bed. Not sure why, but I'll stick with it. :)

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  7. I'm not too superstitous, but maybe if I did have some little quirks that indicated to my brain 'work time' it would be no harm.

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  8. I try not to have an "empty" coffee cup :) Although it does switch to tea after a few cups of coffee.

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  9. I don't have any of those fine quirks yet. I hope I develop something fun so that when I'm a successful author, others will have something fun to write about me....

    Keep it quirky Talli. That makes up the amazing person you are!

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  10. This was fabulous. I think I need to create a superstitious lifestyle when it comes to writing. I do know that when I've started a novel wherever I started it is where the writing continues... even if it's at work. Yes I realize that's bad but when you get the light of writing you don't just blow it out.

    Oh yes... the query world is a harsh and cruel and yet I still put myself through it at the chance to be something great. Right now I've sent out 25 queries and received 9 form rejections... does it mean I'm closer? Guess we'll find out.

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  11. It's funny, because before this post I would have said I don't have any writing quirks. I totally do.

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  12. I don't have any superstitions. Maybe I need to make up a few....

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  13. I have a few quirks I also need to go through before I get down to writing. It's a habit that works for me though so I don't question it ;)

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  14. I understand. My husband wouldn't change his sox if his ball team was on a winning streak.

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  15. lol. I do my best writing right when I wake up in the morning. Dunno why.

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  16. You're so right. Everything has to be in the right place and aligned just so. Having just (finally!!) finished your book, though, I'm very grateful to the chocolate-stained blanket and the unwashed mug. Does your mug need a guard? :)

    Rosie
    East for Green Eyes

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  17. OMG me too! I'm so glad i'm not the only one

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  18. We all have our set routines, thanks for writing about yours and sharing it with us.

    Yvonne.

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  19. love this post - writers do seem to be a superstitious lot... best J-word of the day ;-)

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  20. I'm not superstitious exactly, but I have obsessed over the DUMBEST things that I know won't make a difference. Okay, wait, I am superstitious.

    JINX!

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  21. You`re absolutely right about any sort of creativity being far from a simple thing. What option do we have? Just to continue.

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  22. I used to have a process, now I have a puppy. And since the arrival of said puppy, everything is askew and I have to just write anyway (while making sure the puppy isn't eating a futon). But I do yearn to go back to having my quiet, comfy space to disappear into imaginary worlds.

    Great post!

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  23. I like your superstitious things! I'm not superstitious, but the breakfast dishes must be washed before I start writing. I can't write if I know there's a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. That's because I'm a neat freak.

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  24. I know exactly what you mean. For me the music must be at a certain volume. Odd out!

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  25. Great J post! You can never be too careful. Better safe than sorry. That's my motto. If that means my chair must face north so that I can write then so be it. No sense tempting the anger of the writing gods. I never did like to rock the boat.

    Dafeenah

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  26. Hehehe! Great post! I used to be like that before I had two kids who allow absolutely no order in my life whatsoever.

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  27. Ah, this is so true! Writing is such an unpredictable world - but there are things we can control and I love being reminded of that :-)

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  28. Awesome choice for "J"! I do like having things in order to write, but I don't think I have any set rituals, which is probably a good thing, lol.

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  29. Um, Hot Tamales? Yeah, I think that's all I need.

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  30. Oh! Yes. I love this! If only it were true, but at least we can dream. Right?

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  31. Interesting post, Talli, makes you wonder what all the other writers do.
    When I visited Wordsworth's cottage in the Lake District, you should go visit, he had a staircase out of his upstairs study/bedroom so he wouldn't have to go down the stairs and his thoughts interrupted by the 'womenfolk', now you don't feel so bad.

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  32. I don't think I have any rituals as such! I think I just like to have total peace and quiet. Then I fall asleep. LOL!!

    Oh I must have a cat!

    Yay for India Drummond! Take care
    x

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  33. I suspect you are not alone Talli. I work at the dining table and it has to be clear of anything non-writing. My coffee mug has to one of my three favourites. Mad bunch aren't we?!

    Ellie Garratt

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  34. When I'm writing, I have superstitions for specific projects. My kids think it's rather amusing.

    I'm participating in the A to Z Challenge too!

    Lisa
    LisaHartjes.com

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  35. Ah, that's what I need, a magic mug :)

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  36. I have to have the radio on in the background, not loud enough to hear what anyone's saying, but loud enough to know someone's saying it.

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  37. This was so interesting to me. I have to have things a certain way, as well. But I particularly have to have my things to do list done.
    Karen

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  38. Talli, we all follow certain rituals, and I'm always afraid of jinxing anything good that may come along. Very well done. Julie

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  39. I consider so many things to be a jinx! I'm convinced I am a jinx myself when it comes to sports...if I want a team to win, I do not allow myself to watch the game or else they'll lose. It's a proven fact.
    I don't like to imagine my future with any men I meet because it surely won't happen.
    I knock on wood about seven times a day.
    It's kind of ridiculous. ;)

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  40. I try not to worry too much about little things. Personnally though, I think announcing something that's not so certain may jinx it, LOL...

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  41. Hah, did you do 'jinx, you owe me a soda!' when someone said the exact same thing as you at the exact same time? that was popular in our school yards and that's what your title reminded me of :)

    okay, that e-mail with questions starts with this; how did you go about getting your book our and about? I don't know where to begin? I know that seems broad but I didn't know you when you began all your endeavors so I don't know what your starting point was...any guidance would be lovely!
    Thanks Talli!

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  42. I like how you described the way writers have little rituals to control the uncontrollable world of being a writer; I think that's definitely true. There's definitely some comfort that can be derived from rituals and routines; it's something we can rely on. I always like reading about writers' rituals and the other aspects of their writing process; for example, I heard that Hemingway preferred to write standing up. I would think that his legs got tired after a while, though.

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  43. Talli,
    i can totally relate. I knock on wood and do things a certain way as well. Maybe it's my OCD kicking in, or the fact that i come from a superstitious culture. whatever it is, i'm thankful that my loved ones dont mind my quirks.
    nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  44. Any lucks socks? Lucky underwear? I think what you do is pretty normal. The right frame of mind (and the right comfort) can make our writing more productive.

    Baseball pitchers the most superstitious, I think. They also have one of the most stressful jobs.

    Hope you had a productive writing day!

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  45. We all have our own little quirks. My 2 year old son already has some OCD tendency.

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  46. I'm not that superstitious, but there are some things that I do out of habit. I never answer the phone during a ring and I definitely avoid the walking under ladder thing.

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  47. I never really thought of my writing superstitions or quirks, but now that I think about it, I guess I do have them to an extent. It seems like most of them have to do with procrastination though lol...making sure I have a drink, making sure I've done this or that before I start to write.

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  48. I need to have everything just so! My pen, laptop writing board, a drink, no cats on me...

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  49. I'm happy to report I don't have a superstitious bone in my body, but gee, if anyone else uses my coffee cup, look out! That would totally ruin my day and I'd be off to buy another one, ha ha.

    Denise<3

    L'Aussies Travel A-Z Challenge - J is for Japan

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  50. Hey I came back. We've got most people to get rid of the ridiculous word verification but how's about pop-up comment boxes? Most A-Zers have crossed over to them. They're much more convenient, especially on a popular blog like yours where you have a gazillion comments to scroll down before finally hitting paydirt. Just wondering why you don't have this little convenience for your acolytes? (Just being smart, probably misspelled...)

    In the interest of visiting more fantastic bloggers at the speed of light...

    Denise<3

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  51. My quirk is getting up at 4:30. I'm queen of my office and ruler of my worlds! Until the sun comes up that is.

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  52. I must pay more attention when I sit down to right. Other than having the television turned on to Law and Order, NCIS, CSI or Bones, I think I'm pretty easy. ;)

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  53. I'm trying to think if I have anything quirky. Um, well, if I'm writing a poem, no one is allowed to read it until it's finished. And I learned a long time ago to never ask the question: What else can go wrong? Because you'll quickly find out!

    Fun post!!!

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  54. Fun post!

    I've got the fingerless gloves too!

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  55. Thanks for sharing your magic tips! I could use them... I first need to ask the Magic Genie to help me work on my grammar... ;-D

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  56. So weird for me to hear your thoughts of writers getting dropped. If I were an agent, I would sign you in a second. When will you release my new bookie to read? You're the only women's lit writer I've read since Fielding. That's saying something!

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  57. I'm weary of jinxing myself like talking about getting a job before anything even happens.. I try to keep things to myself until they actually happen so I don't feel as bad about it after the fact

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  58. I'm a little superstitious in several areas - having tea when I write is a MUST!

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  59. Don't forget that you cannot tell anyone about your current project because it will somehow take the soul of your story thereby killing it forever.

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  60. I wouldn't go so far as to say I am superstitious, but there are definitely some must-do's and can-not's that I have to follow--otherwise my world comes crashing down. I hate using the font Comic Sans MS, I always have to be eating when I write and I must have my Quotes book beside me. Even if I don't use it to look anything up, I just feel more comfortable with it nearby while I write. Haha, odd I know!

    ~TRA

    http://xtheredangelx.blogspot.com

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  61. Yep, rituals are key to a pleasant writing experience :)

    ........dhole

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  62. I'm backing away from the coffee cup. Just backing away...

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  63. I'm screwed up enough - I don't need rituals, as well!

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  64. I dont have too many rituals but I do need to have a clear head which means walking the dog first.

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  65. I have a whole slew of magic mugs.

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  66. It's so nice to read I'm not the only one with peculiar habits! I have a pair of blue Thai fisherman pants that I have to wear whenever i start a chapter. It's crazy but it seems to work. (They're also extraordinarily comfortable!)

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Coffee and wine for all!