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Thursday, April 22, 2010

What totems, rituals, or superstitions do you have?

I'm pretty much as Virgo as Virgo gets. Which means I'm a ridiculous creature of habit. Which means a lot of things that might not come off as seeming superstitious probably look that way. Who knows, maybe they started out as superstitions that evolved into habits. Totems and rituals, those I have plenty of, just because, once again, creature of habit.

Anyhow, so what totems, rituals, or superstitions do I have?

I always step first with my left foot. I was in band/drum corps for so many years, it's just habit. But it feels weird if I don't do it.

I won't wear all black or all white to a wedding. Even though I know the "rules" about such things have relaxed somewhat, it was so drummed into me that it was bad juju to do so, I don't dare risk it. I'm too afraid my grandma's gonna swoop in and smack me upside the head. (Plus, someone wore white lace to my wedding and it was kind of obnoxious, so there's that, too...)

Every morning, I have to check my news sites and email while drinking my coffee. And I really, really like being left alone while I do so.

I have to write with the same kind of pen (a Pilot G-2 1.0, preferably black, although I'm also partial to purple if I can find them).

I have to have a fresh blank journal for every manuscript I start. Also, a title. Even knowing the title's going to change, I can't just call it "Story X" or leave the title blank. It twigs me monumentally.

I always have to have music going and I create a new soundtrack for every new manuscript. In fact, that's one of my measuring sticks for how developed a story idea is-- if I can create a soundtrack and have it really evoke a particular mood or characterization, I feel as if I'm really onto something and that the writing's going to go smoothly. (Or at least as smoothly as these things can ever go.)

As far as totems go, I don't have a specific one, but several and my collection keeps growing. They're generally things that I've collected or mean a lot to me or simply make me happy. I have several stuffed Opuses, dating back to my high school days, but my favorite is "Crazy Love" Opus, who's wrapped in a straitjacket printed with little hearts and lives on one of my secondary desks. Back when I thought I was going to write romances, he was my mascot. Now that I know being a romance writer is a little beyond my ken (and my Barbies, too) he's still my mascot, mostly because he represents that craziness that is going into publishing and the hearts remind me that I put up with the craziness because above all, I love to write.



On my desk and bookshelves are smaller figurines: Guido from Cars (Pit stop!) and a folk cow suspended above a house that I bought while a guest at a writing retreat in Tennessee. My agent gave me a carved rooster, since roosters are our "thing" based on a line in STARS that she said was her favorite. Then there are the "boys." My heroes (or anti-heroes, since they're not exactly the most upstanding fellows). I have Nicholas Wolfwood, from the anime Trigun. He's a bad boy renegade priest (of which I have one in my latest MS). Then there's Commander Norrington from the Pirates of the Caribbean series, but not the stuffy, white-wigged version. No, no... I have the scruffy, been beaten down by circumstance version. (I'm using Jack Davenport, who plays Norrington, as an avatar for another story.) And probably my favorite action figure: Gambit, from the X-Men. Oh, do I have myself a soft spot for gamblin' thievin' Remy Lebeau-- neat, neat character in that he's very much a loner, very much an opportunist. Doesn't display an outward loyalty to anything other than his own best interests, but often does the right thing, especially once committed to a person or group. And I have a character named Remy in a story as well.

Superstitions, maybe not so much, but totems and rituals are definitely part of this Very Virgo personality.

4 comments:

Maria Lima said...

Barb, I think we were separated at birth. I'm also a Virgo, and have loads of totems in and around my writing area--including my fabulous 16" Captain Jack Sparrow. :)

In fact, I just moved recently, and the first things I set up were my office and my action figures. Can't write without them!

I also have to have a new notebook for each book, plus use a Pilot pen - though I'm partial to the Pilot Precise Grip Extra Fine...in black or purple. ::g::

Beverly said...

The Opus! The shelves! The view! *G*

I have my black matchbox 67 Impala, a Norfin damtroll, fountain pens of all descriptions and ages, inks of all colors and bottle shapes, inkwells and dip pens--and a high speed internet connection. I will most likely die before I fill all the blank books I have stockpiled, but they're as much an addiction as the inks.

And still I find myself scribbling with mechanical pencil in the grubby notebook I've carried in my purse for years in the Fred Meyer parking lot.

Micol Ostow said...

I'm a Taurus and stubborn as they come. I think my biggest "ritual" with regard to writing is that wherever I am, I have to designate a dedicated space for writing -- I won't drag the computer to the couch or anything unless I'm having some sort of sick day or something. I always feel like keeping my writing space separate helps me get into a writing HEADspace.

Jennifer Echols said...

Micol, I think that's a terrific ritual to have, and I wish I had it too!