Writer quirks and superstitions

Speaking of learning about the past, as Clare did yesterday, I just received a blast from my family’s past. A big truck arrived at Chez Kathryn on Sunday morning, bearing a treasure trove of inherited family artifacts. I use the word “artifacts” advisedly. Some of the items we just received, while interesting and beautiful, are also a tad…unusual.

For example: there’s a Victorian-era bronze replica of the Farnese Bull  being wrestled to the ground by men wearing fig leaves. I  call this piece “The Creature,” but it actually depicts the Roman myth of Dirce. According to the rather misogynistic tale, Dirce is tied to the bull as punishment for her “wrong” behavior. (I’m ashamed to admit to Clare that I had to look up that info on Google).

Then there’s a pair of carved wooden busts picked up during Grand Tours undertaken by 19th-century kinfolk. I have reunited the couple for the moment on a fireplace mantel.

There’s also a Civil War-era saber. The saber was discovered hidden inside the walls of the family home in Whistler, Alabama. (When I unpacked that little treasure, I of course swung it over my head and let loose with a Rebel Yell, in honor of my vanquished ancestor.)

And as interesting as that saber is, it can’t hold a candle compared to the Crusader sword and Assyrian shield, which have yet to find placement on the walls of our extremely contemporary home.

Then there’s a silver, wagon-wheel thingee. I can’t figure out what the heck the thing is. It’s very ornate, and obviously was wheeled out for some kind of formal purpose. A special wine presentation, perhaps? Anyone have a clue about this one? Clare? I’m thinking about calling it the Chariot of the Bacchus Gods. It’ll come in handy during our housewarming party, I’m sure.

I was going to discuss writer quirks and superstitions today, really I was. But I think my rambling and these pictures give you an idea of the theme I had in mind: as writers, we all inherit our share of odd quirks. Some of those quirks inevitably find their way into our writing.  At the rate I’m going, I foresee writing a family saga spanning decades and generations–something very James Michener-ish. Or perhaps more torrid, like THE THORN BIRDS.

So my question for you today: what odd quirk have you inherited as a writer? Or what have you inherited from your ancestors that’s bizarre or fascinating? 

13 thoughts on “Writer quirks and superstitions

  1. Sadly, with eccentric English parents, I fear I have inherited lots of quirks. I have all the old superstitions (like no new shoes on the table) and a love of folktales and ‘sixth sense’ beliefs. I also have lots of antiques that seem pretty bizarre (though not quite as bizarre as some of yours:)) including a silver dinner gong that I proudly use to call my boys for dinner. As I get older I’ve warned them, it’s only going to get worse…

    • I just found out that the silver trolley was indeed used at the table to serve wine! Evidently diners rolled the cart along the table by convention. This practice is an origin of the phrase, “The bottle stands by you, Mr. (Name)” whenever a gentle reminder was needed to keep the wine trolley moving. Love that! I will now load up the trolley with red wine and park it on the bar. What fun!!

  2. Quirky? I am not sure I know what you mean.

    Fillii? Boffin? Do you know what she’s referring to?

    “No boss, no clue.”



    Do we have any quirky stuff we can mention?

    “Uh…what year is it?”

  3. Superstitions, I have a few. I won’t speak or read about any kind of catastrophe when a loved one is traveling. I think I’m afraid of “inviting the Devil”, as the Old Irish say.

  4. I inherited a lovely photo of my grandpa from about 1904. He’s four and wearing high-button shoes and holding a puppy.His family was very poor and the picture was taken outside on the street. It’s one of my treasures

  5. My family’s idea of treasures are: a collection of fart machines, a plastic unicorn head, and collectibles from Duck Dynasty.

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