Squawk Radio

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


I have begun my next book. Again. Actually, for the fourth time. But this time it’s going to stick. How do I know? Because once more I caved in to superstition and performed the Begin the Book Ritual and it's always worked before. And no, contrary to popular belief this does not involve my throwing my thighs on the altar of Hershey’s kisses by eating a 2 lb bag in one sitting as has been Someone's unkind suggestion. My ritual is much more arcane and a good deal less flavorful.

First, I clean my altar, er, desk. I gather together all the heaps of paper that have accrued on since my last Begin the Book Ritual with the intention of going through them and dealing with each and every one. Soon enough this gets boring so I settle for stacking them in piles sorted by weight and size.(An aside: I’ve noticed that almost all invoices are printed on flimsy paper while dental cleaning reminders come on high grade linen. Dentists! What a racket!) Then I move the piles to the floor in an unused corner of the office--which is not always easy to find-- where they’ll sit for a few months until one of the dogs starts shredding them and at which point I will file them all away in a file labeled “FILE THESE!” I have lots of like labeled files.

Next, I take all the trinkets, photos, tschatskes and doodads off my desk and spray everything with some pathogen in an aerosol can. Then I smear this around with a piece of David’s tee shirt which well may have been a whole tee-shirt a few minutes previously to this but which now has given up the ghost in the service of Connie’s Ritual. There are worse causes.

After the smearing, I carefully dust each little trinket from my desk, sometimes humming a little ditty as I go, sometimes crooning fondly as I recall the circumstances by which they came into my possession. Mostly I wonder why I have so much crap on my desk.

As soon as the desk is clean, the real work begins. I don my high-priestess robe which may, to the uneducated eye, bear a startlingly resemblance to a cheap acetate robe from Chinatown. And then, the piece de resistance: my Incan thinking cap which, to the uneducated eye, bears a startling resemblance to a felt chicken hat. That's it; I'm ready to contact My Muse.

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words...so here you go. Connie on the cusp on inspiration.

It worked, too! I am well on my way to chapter three and feeling confident. And when I do start to waver? Well, there’s always the Incan thinking cap...

How about you? Are there any rituals you perform before you start a project? Are you a spring cleaner? A fool for holidays? Do you do something special the day you send your kids back to school? (I still cleave fondly to my bottle of wine under the pergola—”even though my kid’s in college. I tell the neighborhood moms I’m doing it for them!)
Connie Brockway, 11:58 AM