Catholics aren’t supposed to be superstitious. (I can hear a lot of you laughing out there, because the Irish are mostly Catholic and the Irish are very superstitious!) I suppose it doesn’t help that I’m Irish Catholic. :/
Writers also tend to be a bit neurotic. Some of us never read our books after they are published. Some of us have little rituals in the morning to help lure the muse out of hiding. Some of us simply write off our entire career as rubbing the right lucky shamrock at the right time when all the moons are aligned.
I don’t know any writer who doesn’t feel that what they are writing is the worst drivel on the planet. Self-doubt is part of this business–I think all creative people doubt their talent because the final product, be it a book or a movie or a painting or a song, is subjective. Some people will love it. Some people will hate it. Also, we feel guilty (or maybe it’s just us Irish Catholics who feel guilty, though some of my Jewish friends say their mothers have the market cornered on wielding guilt as a weapon.) Why guilt? Because if we LIKE the book we’ve written, is that too arrogant? What gives us the right to deem our novel worthy?
I have a few more chapters left of my page proofs for CARNAL SIN, which I need to FedEx this afternoon. Reading the page proofs is the last time I’ll see this book before it is printed. And now I’m scared. Because I really like this book. For those who know me, I tweak extensively in the page proof stage, cutting repetition, changing words, sometimes adding or deleting whole paragraphs–sometimes even adding in an entire scene! But not this time. I’m being hypercritical of everything because I like it. I really, really like this book–and I’m terrified that I’m going to jinx it. That if I LIKE the book, everyone else is going to hate it. Or worse, that I’m blind to the story’s flaws.
The same goes for my career. When someone congratulates me on my success, I want to say, “Don’t jinx it!” Instead, I’m gracious and smile and say, “Thank you.” Because what do you really say to that? Every writer is crawling up the side of an hour-glass, and once you start on the upslope, you’re hanging on only by the sheer force of your will, your perseverance, and even a little luck. Talent matters, but talent isn’t the ONLY thing that matters.
Three months and CARNAL SIN will be on the shelves. No matter how well it does, or doesn’t do, I know I wrote the best book I could write at the time. And really? That’s all any writer has control over. The story on the pages.
I’m giving away books! A copy of ORIGINAL SIN, book one of the Seven Deadly Sins series and a copy of COMING HOME by Mariah Stewart (I thought I ordered two copies, but I ordered three from Amazon, so I have an extra! My mom gets one.) And the two winners get to pick a friend to win, too! Those friends will win any title from my backlist, your choice! Just post a comment, any comment. But what I’m really interested in today is your superstition. Do you throw spilled salt over your shoulder? Avoid walking under ladders? Do you have a special ritual when you write? What about before you fly or go on a car drive?
Other than my fear of jinxing myself if I expect something good to happen, I have a little superstition related to gambling. Long ago, I won $500 at Craps in Lake Tahoe. That day, I’d played Roulette for the first time, right when I walked into the casino. Now, I can’t go to a casino without playing Roulette first because I have this subconscious belief that it helped in winning Craps (though I lost $20 on Roulette.)