Are you a paraskevidekatriaphobic? (Do you fear Friday the 13th?) Or, perhaps like me, you just fear the movie by that name and don't like to watch horror movies in general.
For this blog, I couldn't resist searching the Internet for examples of superstitions, in particular, why Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day. Some people claim that Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden on a Friday, Noah's flood started on a Friday, and Christ was crucified on a Friday. Others say there isn't much reference to Friday the 13th being unlucky until about a century ago, leading them to claim this superstition is largely the result of hype by media.
Are writers more superstitious than others? I didn't find an answer to that. However, I did find some superstitions of writers, such as not giving a manuscript a title until it's complete for fear of not finishing it, and always using the same type of pen or the same color of paper to write a first draft.
Do you have a superstition about how you write? Perhaps you have to walk around your chair three times counterclockwise before sitting down to write? Or do you need thirteen chocolate kisses near your keyboard to write a love scene?
Whether you have superstitions or not about HOW you write, I have to agree that superstitions can make great story elements. One writer listed these as possible story foundations: a belief in specific events (Halloween), apparitions (vampires, werewolves and ghosts), charms and incantations (throwing salt over your shoulder, avoiding pavement cracks) and predicting the future (horoscopes, palm reading). Someone also suggested that superstitions about animals could make an interesting story. For instance, if a black cat walks toward you it brings luck; walking away means the luck goes too.
Have you used a superstition in one of your stories? Or have you made up a superstition for one of your characters? Here's a fun one for romances: If you want to see what your future husband looks like, sit down in front of a mirror and eat an apple before brushing your hair. An image of a man will appear behind your shoulder!
For grammar whizzes, I found these listed as the top 10 English grammar myths or superstitions:
1. Never split infinitives
2. Never use contractions in essay writing
3. Never begin a sentence with ‘and’, ‘but’ or ‘because’ (conjunctions)
4. Never begin the essay title with prepositions
5. Never use first-person pronouns in academic writing
6. Never refer to the readers as ‘you’
7. Never use ‘between’ with more than two objects
8. Never use ‘since’ as because
9. Never use direct question
10. Two-syllable adjectives must use the suffix –er or suffix –est form to form comparative or superlative
For those who wish grammar was never invented, I also found a Web site that takes issue with each of the items on the above list.
Lastly, for those who want to protect from evil spirits or ward off bad luck, a Washington Post columnist offered these ancient rituals:
--Layer on the eyeliner and smoky eye shadow. Ancient Egyptians believed that makeup prevented the evil one from entering your eyes.
--Show the 'horned hand.' It looks like a secret greeting among Metallica-heads, but Italians do the mano cornuta for protection. To form the gesture, use your thumb to hold down your middle and ring fingers, then extend your pointer and pinkie like horns. Though this might ward off evil spirits, it could also attract heavy-metal rockers or University of Texas fans.
--Grab a carrot, a replica of the Washington Monument or any other phallic object. According to Romans, such objects seduce the evil spirit away from you. However, your carrot might then be possessed.
Another columnist suggested that we shouldn't label Friday the 13th "the unluckiest day of all," unless you break a mirror, walk under a ladder, spill the salt, or spy a black cat crossing your path. Then you might consider spending the day in the safety of your home with doors locked, shutters closed and fingers crossed.
However, simply because I like to go against "popular" opinion, I consider Friday the 13th a lucky day, and will expect traffic lights to all be green, people to adopt a record number of cats, and miracles to happen. (Guess that could be considered a reverse superstition.) Happy writing on this luckiest of days!