Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Thursday 17 January 2013

Superstition and Ritual

Lots of creative people I know, including writers, are religious in some way, and those that aren’t seem to be superstitious, or, at the very least, they employ rituals of all sorts to get them through their daily lives.

The husband is a man of rituals. I am not privy to them all, because his office is his private space, and I tend not to intrude, but the biggest of them involves a massive tidy-up at the beginning of each new major project. Two or three times a year everything is dragged out and re-ordered. Old research is boxed up and archived or recycled to the second hand bookshop if it is very specialist and unlikely to be re-used, notebooks are collated, sacks of documents are shredded or burned, and the blank slate is reinstated. Then the ritual data-accumulation begins again in ‘the box’ as a new project, often a novel, unfolds.

I don’t accumulate, except for a note here or there, a line or two jotted down. I’m easily overwhelmed by research material, so I glean and cherry-pick and move on quickly. The husband surrounds himself with lead figures of superheroes or space men on his desk, with post-it notes on ever surface, with piles of books cracked open and spread facedown one on top of another. I lift a detail and return the book to its shelf. I jot down a note on a legal pad and stash it in my desk. I don’t make the graphic or the book jacket for my latest story my desktop wallpaper, as he does, I pop it in a folder on my desktop and leave my screen black.

Then there are the OCD things: the order the husband opens the mail in, or how I move across my open tabs or refresh pages or save documents. There’ s his pacing and my utter stillness. There’s the fact that he talks for hours on the telephone, and I avoid using it at all and any cost.

We are different the husband and I, when it comes to so many things.

On the other hand, we are hopelessly alike. We share a hopeless addiction to Moleskine notebooks, Mont Blanc pens, Yellow legal pads (perforated across the top), all things Apple, and to vévés, amulets, good luck charms. We aren’t fussy. They can come from any creed, any culture, any religion, any superstition; we are as at home with horseshoes as we are with crosses, as comfortable with a four leafed clover or Hamsa charm as we are with a star of David or a prosperous fish.

Creative people do all kinds of things for security, for comfort and for luck, and I’m tempted to think that we’re born that way. As a very small child, so small that I don’t remember the first time I did it, I would insist on taking my new shoes to bed with me. As an adult, I still keep my shoes boxed, no matter how old they get. 

I also smell my husband’s head, but perhaps that’s a confession for a whole other kind of blog.


  1. I love these little insights into your lives. (Although I don't think I'll be reading your head-smelling blog.)

  2. I rather wonder if we're a little odd, but then, if we are, it seems to work for us. Smiles.