The Stories of Michelle Rodriguez

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Writers and Their Superstitions

Posted by [email protected] on November 15, 2011 at 7:00 PM

I'm an odd person; as a writer, that's good fodder for inspiration, but when it comes to the rituals I require to make said inspiration work for me, it can be a bit distracting. I have my own routine about how I always must handle things within my story writing with a fear of failure if these random details are changed. I think that every single person who has a talent or a passion for doing something develops his or her own facets surrounding said talent. I thought I would give a little insight into mine and maybe show that I may be odd, but I'm also unique.


Superstitions are a way of life for my story writing. I have established a certain pattern of behavior that I've subconsciously convinced myself will result in nothing but trauma if I deviate. Dramatic? Yes, but when one must be closely in touch with feelings that will be poured out onto paper, one is entitled to be a little dramatic.


I start every one of my stories exactly the same. A brand new, 5 subject, college-ruled notebook, preferably in a color that FEELS like my story. I sign my name in the front cover and date it; that is an important step. When the story is finished, I also sign the back cover and date again. I like knowing the life span of a particular story and its characters. If I look at the date, I can recall what was happening in my life and how I felt at the time I wrote certain scenes and their images. It also gives me a basic average for how long I spend lost to someone else's life; for me, it is about 6 weeks, although I have a few that were started and stopped for various reasons and a few that pushed into only a month. "Opera Macabre" had the first 60 pages or so written and then was put aside for 4 years before I picked it back up and finished it in less than a month. Sometimes inspiration can be fickle like that. It is neat to look back and see that I started "Opera Macabre" on November 4, 2003, and that one had a time as well as date because that story drove me to so much insanity that I got up one morning before 4AM and just had to start it! Maybe that was a prelude for what was to come; anyone who knows me knows that since having kids, I have little choice but to write at 4AM, but another superstition is that I must do it everyday no matter what else I should be doing instead. I have my bagel and coffee, put on a playlist custom-made for the story I'm working on, and write. The coffee helps immensely, but then again anytime before sunrise, one would need some kind of mental stimulation.


Another superstition I have is that I must write everything out in pencil and never compose at the computer. Yes, that is very old school, and it isn't even that I was born before the computer take-over. It started off simply because I wanted to be able to write whenever and wherever I was, and so I had a notebook and a pencil everywhere with me. It made sense. I always said that if by some wild, freakish twist of nature, I was one day stranded on a desert island, all I would need were notebooks and pencils, and I could be content forever. There is just something so calming to me about pencil and paper. It's the scratch-scratch sound; it's holding the notebook in my hands; it's being able to flip back pages on a whim to check something out. Having written 24 novels and over 60 short stories, I'm sure it can be imagined the pile of notebooks I have accumulated. Stashed away, they are my treasure. Of course, due to pencil's inability to be permanent, some words grow smeared, but I like to think that adds character. Maybe someday, people who have enjoyed my stories will be able to see the hand-written copies, before edits and full of leaded smears like artwork. And yes, it is time-consuming to then type every word after the fact, but I use that as a first edit and make changes as I go. It's amazing how many redundant phrases or repeated words I've caught that way. And it's a labor of love. I literally must adore every word on the page if I take the time to write and then type them letter by letter.


My superstitions are not just rituals; they extend into my story writing as well. I am currently working on the fifth book of my angel series, and aside from some random details that I have granted, I WILL NOT talk specifics until it is done. I can't. I'm scared I'll jinx it! How crazy is that! I have a storyline plotted and am chugging away at it, but I feel like telling people adds a weird, unwanted pressure. I don't even confide the characters' names! It's as if everything must stay behind a construction curtain until it is finished and then the surprise can be revealed. And 24/7, it will be the primary focus behind my every expression and playing incessantly in my mind, but I WON'T talk about it! People who know me recognize my tendencies and have learned not to ask. If they do, they get to hear my unqualified superstition and call me strange. That's just fine. I'll take strange over normal any day.


Some people might look at my weird tendencies strangely. And I freely admit that they are, but everybody has their technique. Granted, normal people don't take it as extreme or as a death for the entire story if the pattern is changed, but if the ending result is a book I can be proud of, I go with my oddities and embrace them as MINE. They make me unique. So don't be afraid to embrace your own superstitions and let them lead you to more creativity. If the simplest detail like scribbling a name and date in a notebook is what it takes to keep calm and mark a beginning to something great, there is nothing wrong with that. I say don't fix what isn't broken!

 

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1 Comment

Reply mountain harmony
5:31 PM on December 3, 2011 
Thank you for allowing "your public" peek into your writing approach. It was enjoyable and interesting to read. I'm a somewhat non-superstitious person but could totally relate to the calm of not using the computer to create and write. I was a mechanical designer before the computer and loved drawing on the drafting board. The drawing could be your own masterpiece with your own unique touch. But then the computer was forced on us and it just wasn't fun after that. I escaped into Project Management and would look back fondly to the old board days. Di

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