Monday, August 30, 2010

Are you Superstitious

I don’t like to think of myself as a superstitious person, primarily because it seems kind of silly. That being said, I’m superstitious, whether I want to admit it or not.

For example, years ago I made a decision not to tell anyone in the office about a book I was excited about until I had finished most of the manuscript. Why? Because it seemed that every time I got excited enough to tell everyone about those first few chapters the rest of the book would fall apart. I was convinced that if I kept it a secret the book would hold together.

When an editor calls to tell me she’s excited about a book or getting second reads from others in-house I purposely keep my game face on for the editor, the author, and for myself. In other words, I squash any premature excitement. I don’t want to jinx it.

BookEnds has a weekly meeting and each week I need to type up my agenda notes on sales, negotiations, submissions, etc., for discussion during the meeting. I will not add any book to the sales column until negotiations are fully final. Even if we’re 99% there and I know it’s a done deal, I will not add it. Again, I don’t want to jinx anything.

What about you? When it comes to your writing career, is there anything you’re superstitious about?



Jane Lebak said...

I do the not-telling thing too.

Some of my superstitious behavior has evolved into making regular backups of my hard drive, so they're not all impractical or unreasonable. :-)

B.E. Sanderson said...

About the only thing I can think of is that I stopped typing the words THE END on any manuscript not ready for submission. I may have written through to the end of the story, but if I've still got editing and polishing to do, I'm not really finished, so why take the chance of bad juju by pretending I am?

CFD Trade said...

Can you consider it superstition if you believe, whatever you do, if your book is not meant to be published, it will never be? I think that way...

Anonymous said...

I love this post.

I do this too, with agents requesting fulls. Or those that are "excited" by the partial and "eager" to dive into the full.

It seems to never work out. There's hesitation or reluctance and they wish me the best and know it will find an agent, but just not them. Ugh.

I've got and agent now that is "pleased" with the full and needs a little more time with it. Dear God, please....!!

But like you said, I don't even tell anyone, because it's too hard to keep explaining why an agent ended up passing. In fact, since I've been agented previously, I know I won't tell anyone if I do get an agent, I'll only tell them if the ms sells.

Clark Stone said...

I fall into the same category that you discuss. Every time I discuss my excitement about a book's first few chapters, I find myself not working on it soon thereafter.

This summer it took all my strength to keep from announcing my progress on a book I started in 2001. It was the first time I had ever gotten past halfway on writing the first draft of any book.

I kept working on it and finally in July, I made it to the end of the book. At that point, I did announce my progress on the book. Now, I am working on editing it. To my surprise, I find it is fun mainly because I never made it this far before.

I look forward to finishing my first round of edits in September. Then I will start the final edit. Never made it there yet but hope to. Then again, I can find myself in a situation where I have to say "enough is enough," and declare it finished. But look forward to getting it critiqued.

Now, I just hope I did not jinx this part of my progress. Oopss, typn has jus gotn hardr wif my fingrs crossed. (Big Grin)

Dennis Clarkston
AKA Clark Stone

Sage Ravenwood said...

No one knows what my current book is about. I haven't left a clue as to the title or genre anywhere on my blog either, because I don't want to jinx anything. When I find my agent and the book sells, I'll let the cat out of the bag. Until then luck be a lady. (Hugs)Indigo

Kristan said...

Haha, I so understand this. I'm not superstitious about my career in particular, but about jinxing things in general. If I say something WILL happen, it won't, and vice versa. So now I try to add disclaimers like "I think" or "I hope" first, and if I forget, I knock on wood. (A friend gave me a wooden keychain to carry with me at all times, and I do!)

Joseph L. Selby said...

I used to do the new telling thing. Now I'm always writing so that's like saying, "Hey, I'm breathing!" I don't say it, but I'm not scared to say it if it's relevant to the conversation.

I would not say I have an agent until I have an agent. I would not say I am being published until the publisher has actually approved the publication. Those are, unfortunately, hypotheticals.

My biggest one right now (and this has killed manuscripts, so I'm serious about this), I don't put a working manuscript into a project folder until it's done. I have a folder for writing, inside that are the different forms (short, novel, play, etc) and inside that are the folders for the individual works. Those works only get folders once they're done. If I make a folder at the beginning, the thing crashes and burns.

I started to make this mistake with the ms I just finished. I created the folder, moved the accessory files in there, realized my mistake, and left the actual ms where it was. There was a week or so of hard writing, but I got through it.

ryan field said...

I won't start a new book unless it's a Friday. I'll never talk about anything unless it's in writing. And I refuse to show a new manuscript or wip to anyone but the editor, on the day I submit. ...And I only submit mss on Thursdays...after three pm...

Dr. Cheryl Carvajal said...

I also don't say anything unless it's a sure thing... if only to prevent having to tell friends, "No, it didn't work out."

I save all my rejection slips. I'm hoping to paper my writing room with them some day.

Samantha Rowan said...

I'm not superstitious about my writing process. I do keep quiet about my newer ideas until they're pretty firm in my mind. But that's because I feel vulnerable, not superstitious.

Justin Holley said...

I have a routine that works for me in regard to my writing and the subsequent process thereafter, but it's born more out of utility than superstition. However, I try not to write the Lord's name in least before noon :)

Wendy Tyler Ryan said...

My superstitions tend to make me "guarded". In the very beginning, I never even told anyone that I was writing a book, I didn't want them to say "you? right", or some such other quashing comment. (not that my family would).

Well, it's been years now and although that book is long finished, I still don't like to talk about my current wip to family. It seems, however, that I am better at being honest with strangers. I am able to let out all my angst etc. with my blog followers. They are people in the same boat so I know they're not going to judge me. For me, it has really helped keep me on the straight and narrow and I'm not as guarded as I used to be.

Philangelus: I am somewhat crazed about backups myself. My husband, aside from his main job working in finance, does programming as well, I have heard countless stories of people losing the contents of their hard drive on more than one ocassion and they had not backed up in a long while. This will never happen to me.

Hart Johnson said...

Sounds to me like you are just protecting yourself from disappointment, whick is quite rational--better to be pleasantly surprised that get your hopes up and be crushed.

Me, on the other hand... I query in batches of 13 and send them on dates that mean something. Because I believe? No, because it seems less painful if I make a game out of it.

Donna Lea Simpson said...

I will never discuss the story I'm writing, because I'm afraid I'll sap all the juice out of it.

I will never email an editor on Monday, nor the day after a holiday.

I never talk about a deal until I know it's done.

Anonymous said...

I always write the end of the book before anything else. Otherwise I always end up not finishing the book.

And I don't scream the name of the Scottish Play in a crowded theatre--oh wait, that's an actor thing ;)

Anonymous said...


Rosemary said...

As one who has been long indoctrinated into my family's Italian superstitions, I never risk the evil eye if I can help it. (But I draw the line at wearing one of those gold horns.)

Huntress said...

Never, EVER write these two words.

'The End'

Is very bad juju.

Natalie Decker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Natalie Decker said...

When I go to the mailbox or even check my email. I deliberately open everything else but that one response, even if it was something I've been waiting on. B/c if I get too overly excited about it, it always turns into something bad.

Anonymous said... my office I have two desks. When I'm working on a novel, I clear the space of the desk I'm using of any papers not related to that novel. So - no papers related to an article I might be working on for a magazine, no bills or other stuff. I think that keeps me in the world of that novel.

I'm not sure that counts...if not, how about this. When I sit in my office chair - I only ever sit down from the right of the chair (not the left) if I'm working on a novel. If I'm browsing or catching up on social media, I don't care how I sit down. But if I'm working on a novel - only from the right side of the chair.

I really have no idea why other than that's how I sat down when I sent my first query (got a request), so I'm afraid to ruin the good mojo or something now.