Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Jinx

By Nichole Giles

There is a terrible disease among writers. Well, actually this disease exists among all human beings. And probably some animals as well. We all have it, but not all of us realize it exists.

I am here to tell you about the curse of the jinx.

The jinx comes in many forms, and may strike in many different ways. Most often, the jinx is aggravated by self-inflicted big-headedness. Each time we tell someone we never need editing, or that our work is already perfect, the jinx will make sure we find out, in the most embarrassing way possible, that we are wrong.

Whenever we start to think one good acceptance will make our career, the jinx will hit again with a rejection. In the manuscript that was perfect, with no changes to be made, and every space and letter exact, the jinx will make sure it prints or sends in Chinese. Unless you speak Chinese, then it will automatically change to Arabic, Hebrew, or Gaelic.

The jinx is probably the culprit behind most rejections, spreading its reach to the editors reading our submissions. “This envelope is jinxed,” they say, and toss it to the rejection pile without even reading the brilliant manuscript inside. The jinx is contagious, you see, and no one wants to catch it, especially not an editor. Imagine what would happen if one editor got jinxed, and then he jinxed another, and another, and another…until there were no lucky editors left. Then where would the world of literature be?

We writers must take action!

To avoid the jinx, we need to be mindful of a few things. Never, ever tell someone—editor, writer, friend, or stranger on the street—that your manuscript is perfect and cannot be improved. Be careful, don’t brag about selling a manuscript that is being considered, but not yet under contract. Don’t schedule book signings or promotions for a manuscript that is still in the rough draft stage, and far from acceptance. Always accept criticism gracefully and without argument. Be willing to revise, change, and re-arrange your words.

Most importantly, do not spread the jinx to your writing friends. Avoid this disease of the mouth and fingers by reminding them to remain humble at all times. Because even when one of us has a New York Times Bestseller, we can always find ways to improve.

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