Joanna here, considering the delicate question of lucky objects for writers.
I have my own lucky object, a small brown Beanie Baby bear. It was sent to me by my first fiction editor after publication of my very first fiction book back in 1983.
He is … unnamed. I think it’s because he is unique and therefore doesn’t need a name.
My bear sits on my desk and holds my glasses and is one of a half dozen object that have kept me company from desk to desk and country to country, over the years, waiting patiently while I wrote, or surfed the web, or read books on the computer, or tried to figure out if houses in 750 BCE Europe were covered with whitewashed wattle and daub or the relative cost of sweet oranges in London in 1800.
Is he lucky for me?
I think of him mostly as company,
But maybe he’s lucky.
I have absolutely no lucky objects or customs that help me get ready to write
and I can’t help but feel it might be useful to have some at the moment as I’m stuck in the middle of “the revisions that will not end.”
It’s surprising that I don’t, actually, as I can be quite superstitious in other ways. When I see a magpie I always say: “Good morning, general,” and I’m always very happy if a black cat crosses my path.
That said, I do often have a random object or cuddly toy on my desk that I’ve taken a fancy to. At the moment it’s a red squirrel that I picked up on a trip earlier this year to Cumbria, when I saw real red squirrels in the wild. Rather unimaginatively, he’s called Red. At the moment he’s cuddling up with a glass angel that I found in Lindisfarne. The angel feels like a talisman and hopefully both of them together can inspire me to get to the end of this book!
Pat is another skeptic:
I’m just not a superstitious person.
I may believe in the possibility of ghosts because I can’t rule out the existence of different dimensions or some invisible ectoplasm that binds us all. If I happen to notice a ladder, I won’t walk under it because that’s just stupid.
But luck? Yeah, no. The only way I’ve ever won anything is by paying money into a lottery that had few other takers. Maybe it was luck that I—eventually—found the right editor and agent. But it took years and years of work to earn that luck.
Instead of lucky mementos, I have mementos from friends, a wooden doll with joints that can wave at me, a lovely koala dish, my feng shui stone, and my mother’s troll. . . I feel lucky to have such good people in my life.
Christina, on the other hand:
I’m extremely superstitious in every way and it’s all my grandmother’s fault –
she taught me all sorts of things, like don’t walk under ladders on Friday 13th and don’t compare hands or feet as that’s very unlucky.
Unlike Nicola, I also regard black cats with suspicion because Grandma told me if one crosses my path from left to right I have to spit after it three times and say “Lycka, lycka, lycka, tvi, tvi, tvi …”
I’m now so paranoid I might do that with any cat, whatever their colour, and whichever direction they’re coming from! (Even though I have nothing against cats normally, I promise). For years, I used to carry around a tiny stuffed
Piglet (from Winnie the Pooh) in my handbag for luck – sadly he became so damaged he now sits on my desk and I bought him a clean friend to keep him company. Perhaps they give me luck from there?
As for lucky objects or customs relating to my writing, I have been wearing the replica Viking ring the Piglets are holding in this photo ever since I started that series, and so far (touch wood!) it seems to have helped – long may that continue!
Some years back I did a course with Barbara Samuel, and one of the things she asked us to do was to make a writing "altar" to help inspire our muses. (Apparently it's quite a thing among some writers and if you google the term you'll learn more.)
This is mine — made from an old wooden chalk box with the label still intact —both my parents were teachers and this box is older than me. All the things in the box are small — that mother-of-pearl shell, for instance, is the size of my thumbnail.
At the back of the box is an Annie Leibovitz photo that reminds me I write romance.
There is also a tiny Japanese saki cup containing some red earth that a friend brought back for me from the centre of Australia, and a couple of bears, because we did a "spirit animal" exercise and bears were mine.
I made some little red shoes from fimo (polymer clay) because I hate the story of the Red Shoes and the horrible punishment it gave to a little girl who just wanted pretty shoes, and this was a reminder to write stories of hope.
I have a few pieces of natural crystal because I'm fascinated by crystals and they look so beautiful.
There's a small Chinese wooden ornament base from Penang, and it's filled with smooth tiny stones I've picked up from beaches all over the world.
There's a small polished stone of Australian boulder opal given to me by a writer friend who found and polished it, and it sparks amazing colors when it hits the light, reminding me that a manuscript should contain sparks of bright, unexpected color.
There's a small grey stone from Beddgelert in North Wales, where I read the story of the faithful hound, Gelert, and wept.
I don't think my little writing altar was particularly helpful for my writing, but it was fun to think about and put together.
Andrea with a bit of a mixed outlook:
I am not superstitious.
Okay, I go out of my way not to walk under ladders, and get the heebie-jeebies if a black cat crosses my path. That’s simply a rational acknowledgement that legends usually have a grain of truth to them. (Umm, don’t they?)
That’s said, I don’t have luck charms per se. I have “comfort” items that I keep around my writing desk—things that make me smile when I'm struggling with a scene, when or the Muse seems to have traveled off for a snorkeling vacation in Bali, leaving me treading water in the WIP.
There are a lot of little ones, but two of my favorite are Fox, a Steiff puppet I’ve had since I was seven. (He and I have numerous conversations when thing Aren’t Going Well, and during which he always manages to make me laugh.) And the heavy glass paperweight, given to me by a dear friend, sits by my computer to remind that there are elemental things far more important in Life than a bad day at the “office.”
And Mary Jo rounds it up at the end:
I'm another who doesn't have any interesting superstitions. I never see ladders that I need to avoid walking under and if I see a black cat, I'll pet it.
But I do have one–Habit? Technique? Writing custom?
I usually do this toward the end of a book when loose ends are flying in all directions and I have to figure out how to make it to the finish line.
It's simple enough: I sit down with a tablet of yellow lined paper (letter size, wide ruled) and a blue Flair pen, and I list all the things that need to happen, and how to organize them. It will often become clear that A has to happen before B can happen, and I'll need to write another scene so that C will make sense.
Sometimes I'll do a lighter version of this mid-book when I'm try to figure out what happens next. But occasionally there are technical problems!
So what do you think?
Do you treasure objects you think might be lucky? Or that help you think or that simply bring you comfort?