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Friday, November 13, 2020

Author/character superstitions: HAPPY FRIDAY THE 13TH!

As night falls on this, Friday, the 13th day of November, the year we are still enduring, 2020, superstitions may be running high. We asked our Meadowlark authors and staff if superstitions have a place in their, or their characters', lives. Here's what they had to say:

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, author of Everyday Magic and How Time Moves
    I love imagining where I was on a particular date, such as the last Friday the 13th I experienced. Or I look up when the next one might be, then project what I would like to see happening on that date. I also like asking myself where I was 10 years ago, 40 years ago, even more years ago on this particular date.

Lisa Stewart, author of The Big Quiet
    Here is a horse superstition (which has been documented and researched by acclaimed equine physical therapist and trainer Linda Tellington-Jones and animal researcher at Colorado State University Temple Grandin). It goes like this:

    -Hair whorls on the forehead (cowlicks in people) between and above the plane of the horse’s eyes indicate a more reactive (scared-style) temperament. Especially two whorls above the eyes.
    -Hair whorls below the eyes, especially a long one that extends down below the plane of the horse’s eyes, indicate a calm temperament.
    -One famous race horse trainer predicts one whorl just between the eyes, and one on each side behind each ear (but not farther back than the length of the ears if they were pressed down against the neck), should be a more winning race horse than others. The trainer wouldn’t base his purchase on just the whorls, but if he has other doubts about the animal, the wrong whorls will make him let the horse pass on by.
    -Temple Grandin and a collaborator tested the theory on cattle, which could not have the influence of having previously been trained by people. Their whorls seem to mirror whorls found in horses. They found the whorl/personality pattern to hold up under scrutiny, with the more scared cows in the squeeze shoot having higher whorls.
    In any case, hair whorls sound like a superstition to me! After all, superstitions are deployed by people in professions or circumstances in which they feel out of control and need some mechanism for predicting security or obtaining security. That’s why pitchers, jockeys, farmers and fishermen are known for their superstitions. Certainly, getting on the back of a thousand-pound creature (a horse) that thinks it’s a prey animal the size of a rabbit, and that by nature is claustrophobic, scaredy-cat, flee-a-holic, is a profoundly uncertain business, so hair whorls can make a person feel a little bit better about getting on—or worse!

Kevin Rabas, author of Like Buddha-Calm Bird, Songs for My Father, and Green Bike
    I like to wear a stocking cap when I write in the winter--both indoors and outdoors. When no one is around, sometimes I also wear a cowboy hat. With either hat, it's kind of like a "thinking cap." I feel energized when it's on. 
    Character superstition: One of my characters tosses wine glasses, when she is happy. With or without wine in them.

Julie Stielstra, author of Opulence, Kansas
    Maybe not a superstition, exactly, but when I'm writing something, I don't want to talk about it much or let anyone see it until the first draft is *finished.* If I do, I have (a) cut off the option of secretly smothering it in its cradle and no one will know, and (b) it feels like leaving a newborn on a hillside, where it will die of exposure or be eaten by wolves. Not till it's on its feet, talking and toddling, can it meet strangers.

Tracy's charm necklace brings her the
inspiration she calls upon to write.
Tracy Million Simmons, Meadowlark publisher and author of A Life in Progress and Green Bike
    I have a charm necklace that I got from Cheryl Unruh. I've added a few charms since then, but I wear it to put myself in "writer mode." I suppose you might compare it to a lucky rabbit's foot. When I first got it, I would wear it whenever I had a presentation or other book event. But now I put it on to write. It jingles when I stray, so if I'm wearing it and find myself following distractions, the jingle reminds me that I am supposed to be writing. It helps me get back at it.

Linzi Garcia, Meadowlark publicist
    My family always celebrates each Friday the 13th of the year. My mother was born on Friday, October 13; my parents were married on Friday, September 13. I love thinking about those special occasions especially and am always tickled when those 13ths happen to land on Fridays again. This will be a memorable one, too!

    I listen to jazz while I write, and always suspect that if I don't, I'll mess up my work.
    My characters are in poems, usually, so they don't often suspect a thing. :)

    Pete Stone and I share baseball superstitions and routines. My current MS includes glimpses of Pete's days as a centerfielder – my position in my youth.
    Superstitions begin in the locker room. A ballplayer getting dressed for a game is similar to a bullfighter preparing to enter the ring. (I would imagine. I've never fought a bull.)
    Socks must be adjusted and rolled at the top just so. Then the cuffs of our baseball knickers are tucked into the tops of the socks and bloused just below the knee. The laces in our spikes are tied in a particular way, not too tight, not too loose, as are the strings in our gloves. We curve the brim of our cap to our specifications, as do other players. This is unique and personal – like fingerprints.
    Pete and I each own a lucky bat, but as good teammates, we share our bats with others. We don’t share our gloves. A ball glove is like a toothbrush, one per player.
    Neither Pete nor I step on a foul line when going on or off the field. (A common baseball superstition.) When taking a position in the outfield, we toss a small tuft of grass in the air before the first pitch - a routine to test wind speed and direction. This routine is also a superstition. To forget this ritual would be the same as kicking the demon of dropped fly balls in the shins.
    Our greatest game is rife with ritual and superstition, but I hope this gives you a glimpse for your Friday the 13th piece. Incidentally, most players avoid wearing the number 13 on their uniforms. My older son wore #14, but my younger son chose #13. They were each terrific ballplayers, much better than their old man.

Do you have any superstitions (related to this holiday or apart from)? 

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