I guess I ought to make a confession: I’m working on a novella-cum-novel right now. I have a bet with a would be publisher about whether or not I can reign in my usual brand of literary indulgence enough to start-to-finish a short novel in two months. My need to procrastinate has given me plenty of time to think about how I go about writing. (My need to distract myself probably explains all of my blogging excess also). I’m probably over analyzing this or more likely this has put me in a more thoughtful mood about my writing.

I never realized how superstitious I was until I stepped back and saw all of my little rituals that I do while writing. I’m not talking about that mild form of obsessive compulsive disorder that makes me line up my pens a certain way, keep my desktop accouterments arranged in a particular array, or me lining up my books by topic and size. Or maybe I am, who knows, it’s not like I’m a doctor. No, I’m talking specifically about my ‘good luck’ rituals.

1. Pen choice. I noticed that which ever pen I’m using when words start pouring out of me is the pen that I keep writing with. As soon as I hit a mental wall, I discard that pen and default back to one of my red ink Pentel RSVP (fine) pens. I’d like to concede that I’m a walking cliche such that I’d write in red ink because I’m a horror writer, so I write in ‘blood’. More on point, it’s because I’m a writer used to getting his reports handed back to him bathed in red ink from teacher comments and this is my way of accepting those childhood scars. (I’m kidding about the scars, all you well-intentioned–I suppose–teachers who think that switching to purple will be less traumatic. All that means is that my boys will grow up to write in purple ink.)

2. Notepad choice. I only write on colored notepads. No, this isn’t some race-related rebellion against The Man’s brainwashing of us by making us write on white paper. If that were the case, I’d have no problem writing in black ink all the time and sullying up as many white sheets as I could. No, this goes back to my fear of the blank page. Have you ever noticed how intimidating a blank white piece of paper is? So stark. The way the light bounces back from it is like a glare. I don’t get that with colored pads. I write on sky blue or gray pads (yellow pads glare a little, but they’ll do in a pinch). They’re just so much more soothing. Sure, they cost a little more, but I’m a writer: I’m rolling in cash.

Yeah, anyway, I consider it a cost of my art.

Wait a minute, I find white pages intimidating? Maybe The Man’s getting to me after all.

3. Project toting. I also carry around my latest project with me at all times. Until I get my latest chapter or story entered onto the computer, it stays with me. Literally. (Once they’re on the computer, I back up all my stories, non-fiction, and blogs onto a disk and store the disk away from my house. This way, my computer could crash, my house could burn down, but I’d still have my stories. All our fire drills include me grabbing my backpack with my latest project. After the kids, but before the cat.)

So I tote around my stories either on a clipboard, in a folder, or in my backpack. Everywhere I go. If we go to church, it takes up a pew space. If we go out to eat, it gets its own seat. In the car, it gets buckled in between the kids.

Okay, maybe now I’ve crossed that line from cute eccentricities into full blown pathology.

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