Sunday, 3 April 2016


I bought this small glass finch recently because my WIP is a mystery about songbird trapping.

It's a superstition of mine to have something relevant as a focal point, a touchstone, near me as I write.

It made me wonder how many well-known authors did something similar - engaged in rituals or superstitions. We know about Roald Dahl's messy garden hut and his preference for writing in HB pencil on yellow paper, but compared to some, Dahl was Mr Normal.

Roald Dahl at work in his hut.

A quick google threw up some doozies.

British poet Edith Sitwell would take a rest in an open coffin before writing. She said it helped her focus and cleared her mind.

Edith Sitwell

Truman Capote had several superstitions: he wouldn't begin or finish a piece of work on a Friday, he'd refuse a hotel room if the number involved a 13 and he always left precisely three cigarette butts in his ashtray even when this meant tipping the rest into his coat pocket.

Truman Capote

Fredrich Sciller needed the smell of rotten apples to inspire him (he kept them hidden in his desk drawer). Joaquin Miller took things a whole step further - convinced he couldn't write without the sound of rain on his roof he installed a sprinkler system to continuously pour water over his house. Alexander Dumas insisted on writing fiction on blue paper, poetry on yellow and his articles on pink.

And, like many sports fans with their their "lucky" jerseys James Joyce wore a special white coat to work in.

James Joyce in his "lucky" white coat.

Next to these, my glass finch seems a small indulgence.


Sue Purkiss said...

Edith Sitwell - can that really be true?? VERY strange!

Sue Bursztynski said...

Dalton Trumbo, the screen writer, worked in the bathtub. Not quite a ritual like the others you mention, but honestly, you'd be a prune afterwards and have to keep refreshing the warm water!

Joan Lennon said...

I love hearing about these quirks - and your finch is lovely!

Saviour Pirotta said...

A great post, Sharon. I do buy small talismans for every project that I work on. At the moment I have two - a small silver owl and a tiny bronze figure of Pegasus I bought in Crete. That should give you a clue what setting my book has.

Sharon Tregenza said...

True, apparently, Sue.

Sharon Tregenza said...

Another interesting one, Sue Bursztynski, and thank you, Joan.