It being Friday the 13th, here is my take on writers’ superstitions. You know, those odd little ideas that help us make sense of the bewildering, unfair, and totally alluring business we’re in.
1) Authors with names at the beginning of the alphabet do better than any others. The idea apparently started as the desperate theory that if your name starts with A or early Bs, people don’t have to stoop to find you in the bookstore.
2) It’s all who you know. If you’ve got the right agent, know the influential editors, get introduced to the in-crowd, you’ll have a hugely better chance at publication.
3. People will steal my ideas. Yes, I’ve seen that guy too, the one lurking by my recycle bin on Wednesdays. He’s a failed writer. He knows I’m working on a hot idea. Although I’ve torn my draft in half and mixed up the pages, he’s going to spend his weekend pasting them together. I know what you mean, man!
4. My work is rejected because it’s too good. Publishers want crap because it sells. (This superstition is particularly soul-killing, in my opinion.)
5. My cat is the source of my inspiration. Enough said.
6. You can’t be a real writer unless you have a cat. While cats sleep, they apparently contact the Great Story Source and channel stuff to you. So while they look like mooching, lazy, arrogant creatures, they are actually semi-devine.
7. A small advance will handicap your book. The publisher won’t “get behind it.” Corollary: A big advance, you’ve made it!
8. If your fingernails are different lengths, you will write drek. I happen to believe this one.
9. Reviews predict how a book will do. We should all place great store in these pronouncements.
10. One’s agent has an uncanny ability to predict how a book will do. The corollary: Rejection by agents means your novel sucks.
11. You are born with a certain amount of talent which dictates your success as a writer. (Another soul-killer.)
12. I am competing with other writers. It’s a dog eat dog world.
13. One must always have a little notebook to capture stray ideas. Come on, have you Ever forgotten a great story idea between the toilet paper aisle and home?