Wednesday, March 13, 2013


by Chris F. Holm

Back in September 2012, we Criminal Minders tackled a question as to whether we had any peculiar writing rituals. I proudly declared that I did not. Because I'm me (read: long-winded and digressive), I did so by relating a tale of my youth misspent hustling drunkards at pool. An old-timer at the pool hall I frequented gave me a bit of advice back then I carry to this day: if you want to hustle, you'd best learn to play with the house cues. You come in with a billiard glove and a custom cue, and no one's gonna play you. But if you learn to play with a cue from off the rack, your mark will never see you coming.

It's a bit of advice I took to heart in large part because I'm a deeply superstitious person, and to my mind, superstition and ritual go hand-in-hand. I like the notion of a lucky cue. A lucky table. A lucky mug. A lucky pen. It's all too easy for me to settle into little rites and rituals to help me get through my day unstruck by lightning or uncursed by gypsies or whatever. The only thing keeping me from counting all the sidewalk cracks I step over from beneath the cool shade of my tinfoil hat is sheer, teeth-gritted force of will. If I let so much as one teeny, tiny superstition have dominion over me, it won't be long before they rule my life.

Which is why I've decided to use this blog post to slay the only superstitious writing ritual I have.

See, titles are important to me. So important, in fact, that I've often said I can't so much as start a piece unless I've got a title for it. Whether that title sticks or not is irrelevant (although to a one, my titles thus far have; how's that for jinxing a lucky streak?) What matters is that I've something to build off of.

Or should I say, what mattered. Past-tense. Because it seems to me, I just wrote a post without a title as my guide.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to cross myself and knock on wood.


Jon McGoran said...

Good luck with that!

Chris said...

Ha! Frank Wheeler's already told me this means I'll never write again.

Catriona McPherson said...

I was all set to say I have no writing superstitions but the title thing gets me too.

Chris said...

Glad to know I'm not alone, Catriona! (I can go back to being title-obsessed now that I broke my streak, right?)

Anonymous said...

I can't name anything. Even my cats. All four of them were named by other people. One was named by the guy sleeping on the pillow case the kitty was born in. One was named by an anime-obsessed friend. One named by the woman who found her. The last named by the vet who couldn't read the "not mine" I scribbled on the form.
Every piece of writing currently in my drafts folder is named Invest##. I can't seem to keep them straight, which means they get nicknames, but not proper names.
And now we know why you're the writer and I'm not. ;-)

Chris said...

Neliza: A) You are a writer. In fact, I can say with authority you're a PROFESSIONAL writer, since I've read your stuff on Criminal Element, and they pay. And B) I'm guessing the list of writers who suck at titling their own stuff is way longer than you think.