When I can’t find my trusty red pen, another red pen just won’t do. In that moment, I’m convinced I need THAT pen and I may even waste several minutes – okay, a half hour – to find it. Silly? Yes, but fortunately, most of my superstitions are only temporary. The pen will run out of ink eventually and I WILL use another – although it will be very much like the other one.
I’m the same way when I watch my kids play sports. If the team loses or my child has a bad game, I don’t wear that shirt, sweater, or whatever it was that deserves the blame to the next game. I am not alone in this. During my son’s last football season, I was asked to bring the exact same tailgate food each week. Why? Because they were winning and everyone agreed the spinach dip was the reason! No need to shake your head. I know how that sounds. I’m not actually crazy. I know that neither my clothes nor my food had anything to do with the score or how someone played. I also know my red pen can’t determine which words should stay and which words should go. That is up to me. Still, superstitions can be fun.
For me, superstitions are best when they are small and mostly meaningless. I don’t care about Friday the 13th or black cats or any of the most common myths. Patterns and habits are the kind of superstitions I like. For one thing, they help create a sense of continuity and writers crave continuity to keep the words flowing. I’ve seen the posted pictures of beautiful offices and quaint writing spaces. They are all different and all special. But I guarantee that each of those spaces all contain something the writer absolutely HAS to have around them. Maybe it makes them feel better about their process. Maybe it helps them relax. Maybe it gets their creative juices flowing. It doesn’t matter. If it works, I say keep doing it. While I do occasionally write wherever I might happen to be, most of my work takes place in the same spot with the same computer. When I am in that place and have my usual things around me, I feel ready.
As I work today, with my trusty red pen and perched in my usual place, I am grateful I can concentrate on the words alone. Of course, today is the Ides of March so anything can happen…