I’m Not Superstitious
by David Carkeet
I’m not superstitious about writing. Not at all. So naturally:
- I don’t believe in such a thing as a “lucky pen.”
- I don’t believe that if a so-called “lucky pen” breaks—right in half, for no good reason at all!—you can prolong its blessing by storing its parts in the top desk drawer.
- I don’t believe that if you cross out the very first word you’ve written on a new page you must crumple the page and throw it away. That’s ridiculous.
- Likewise, putting a number on a blank page before you’ve written any actual words on the page does not turn it into a “bad-luck page.”
- I don’t put off counting the accumulated pages of a growing manuscript for as long as possible until I can’t stand the suspense anymore. Why would I do that?
- And what about “conserving letters”? You’re working at the keyboard and change fortune into chance by deleting from the beginning of fortune, but instead of deleting the final e you conserve it and just type chanc in front of it. Who in their right mind could possibly believe such a thing would bring good luck?
- When you’re writing a passage that’s so sad that it suddenly makes you want to weep, it’s not a bad sign if someone in a distant part of the house, at that precise moment, bursts out laughing.
- There is no such thing as a good mailman or a bad mailman. They don’t know what they’re doing.
- A chair is a chair. So if my desk chair breaks after eleven years of supporting me, I’m not going to feel as if I’ve lost a partner or anything. And if I buy a new chair, I won’t feel as if I’ve betrayed the old one or anything like that. And if I put the old one out in the yard for disposal, I won’t get a chill when I look up from my desk and see through the window that a stray dog has climbed up on the chair and is staring straight at me.
- I don’t believe that “everything happens for a reason” and that failures are really part of a benevolent design, which, in the fullness of time, will reveal an exquisite hidden logic.
- I am willing to accept the truth that we are pitifully alone.
David Carkeet is an author of six novels, including three New York Times Notable Books: Double Negative, The Full Catastrophe, and The Error of Our Ways. His honors include an Edgar nomination, an O. Henry Award, an NEA Fellowship, and the AWP Creative Nonfiction Award. David’s latest novel, From Away, is set in Vermont where he now lives. David’s full bio can be found on his website at davidcarkeet.com.