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For a skeptic and atheist I sure have a lot of deeply ingrained superstitions. Heather and I both knock wood whenever we express some hope for the future -- actually, we knock whatever's handy, be it wood, plastic, metal, etc. I stopped worrying about knocking actual wood years ago when my then-girlfriend Adrienne explained to me that spirits no longer dwell exclusively in natural things, but have spread out to live in pretty much everything around us, so you can ask for their assistance or whatever by knocking anything. I don't know why I was able to incorporate that alteration into my worldview, but can't seem to shake the whole notion of warding off evil attention drawn by my optimism. Do I believe knocking wood (or whatever) actually protects me from disappointment or failure? No. But if I don't do it, worry nags at me, deep in my backbrain. Probably a touch of the old OCD.

I've got writing-related superstitions, too. Fortunately they aren't debilitating. Here's the major one: I don't write the title of a piece at the top of the first page until it's done (at least a complete first draft). I don't know why, but titling a piece seems to "finish" it somehow for me mentally, and if I write the title before the piece is actually written, it just stops right there, and becomes a dead thing on the page that I can't revive. Or at least, that was my experience when I was a teenager, which prompted this superstition. Maybe it wouldn't affect me that way anymore, but why tempt fate? (Not that I believe in fate, either.)

Also, I never look at responses from publishers first. If I get a letter that's clearly an acceptance or rejection from a magazine or whatever, I always look at all the other mail first before opening the envelope. Same with e-mail -- if I see something submission-related in my inbox, I look at all the other messages first. I have no idea why. Delaying gratification and putting off pain? Maybe.

What are your weird little things? Particularly things you don't actually think have any affect on reality, but can't resist doing/not doing anyway.

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