Friday, July 25, 2008

Bell, Book and Candle

We can't help it. No matter how rational we try to be, superstition is hard-wired into the human brain. I think it's something to do with pattern recognition, which ultimately is the half brick in the building of consciousness. Or something. Whatever the reason, try as hard as I might to eschew all such nonsense, I can't help but feel lucky when a black cat crosses my path (and I guess the black cat feels lucky too, if I've managed to avoid running it over). Nor can I stop myself from not walking under ladders, especially when there is a man at the top with a big pot of paint balanced precariously on a rung whilst he juggles with brush, lunch and mobile phone. It's the shadow of the noose, you see. Not the thought of being bathed in peach emulsion.

Superstition comes in many flavours, too. Salt over the shoulder to disguise that unsightly dandruff; a touch of a piece of wood - said to represent the cross - as if the instrument of execution of Christ might somehow bring you luck. Didn't do him much good, did it. Crucifixion is a bastard way to die - slow, drawn out and painful.

But I digress. Perhaps the most common superstition is that of not naming something, or speaking about it, in case that somehow prejudices our desired outcome. Don't tell anyone you've bought a lottery ticket, or you're bound to lose. Keep that job application a secret if you really want to get an interview. Don't tell anyone about the plot of land you're hoping to buy or the cockweasel farmer will come back and ask for twice the money.

There's a good reason for this; some might even say a rational one. Put simply, we forget all the little good things that happened after we'd happily blabbered away to our friends and family about them. But the bad things stick. The unfair things rankle. And we look for reasons in the chaff of everyday existence. It's much easier to blame someone else for our failures than accept some inadequacy in ourselves. And superstition - vague, nebulous but univeral - is the easiest force of all to blame.

Which brings me to the point.

Last night, I put the final (for now) touches to the exorcised version of The Book of Souls. The ghosts are gone, the demons sent back to hell. All that is left is madness and obsession, which are probably enough to be going on with, thankyou. I've printed up a copy and this weekend's task is to read it from start to finish, checking for idiot mistakes and non-sequiturs. I have one small subplot that might need weaving in, but I might leave it out for now. And then I have something to do with the manuscript that may well make me very happy indeed. Those of you who saw me at Harrogate will know what that is. But I'm afraid I can't tell the rest of you, at least not here.

It's unlucky, you see.

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2 Comments:

Blogger angie said...

What. A. Tease.

Best of luck to ye, James. Happy last pass revisions & much future goodness with the book!

July 26, 2008 4:11 pm  
Blogger Jo said...

Knowingly keeping shtum.

July 28, 2008 1:52 pm  

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