Tag Archives: zabar’s

Talisman, part II: Revision

new revision mug!

Remember the mug that broke…? The one that was my writing talisman…?

The idea of a writing talisman took the form of 2 Zabar’s mugs in NYC 2 years ago, when my writing (accountability) partner/friend and I were exploring Manhattan. I had vowed to complete a draft of my novel, and she had a deadline to finish her second. We discussed a partnership; she and I would encourage each other throughout our respective novel drafts, and update each other with word counts. We were on a high. We spotted a legion of Zabar’s mugs at…Zabar’s. They were $2/each. It was a no-brainer. We were giddy with optimism. We bought one each. We blessed them. We blessed our novels and our writing.

My Zabar’s mug served me well while I wrote my first draft. It sat, in stoic silence, as I puttered through my draft, and it was there when I, in a state of disbelief, admitted that I had a first draft in front of me.

I left my old Zabar’s mug in California when I moved out to NYC. And bought a new Zabar’s mug. It broke, as if to say it wasn’t signing up for revision. Or as a kind friend put it, “It means your creativity is explosive!” Whatever the case, I freaked out a little.

But then, it turned out that my friend’s mug also broke awhile back; she said she didn’t have the heart to tell me when it had.

Sometimes, the old talisman fulfills its purpose. Sometimes, the old talisman is a $2 mug, and it’s bound to break.

My friend came out to NYC again. We vowed to get revision mugs for our novels-in-progress, both in mid-revision. The revision process is lonelier–there are no clear milestones to mark your way, no word counts. There’s not much a writing accountability partner can do in the revision stage, save for occasional encouragement. For me, it’s real work. It’s working on the stuff that I knew would be hard the first go through. It’s addressing character development and plot holes. It’s holding back on line editing until subsequent revisions. It’s discipline. I need a talisman more than ever.

We got the mugs. We’d forgotten our quest for revision mugs until we stepped into The Strand–and right there, in front of us, were a whole lot of mugs. It felt right. Those were our mugs. The ones with owls on ’em. I pointed and let out some sort of squeaky sound. The mugs were $11.50/each. “They probably won’t break this time,” I said, in order to qualify the price.

And revision continues.


Filed under Novel, Revision, Writing

Talisman, Transformed

whoa: my writing talisman

Only last week, I blogged about my writing talisman, otherwise known as my Zabar’s mug.

And just yesterday, while rinsing out my mug before preparing my Mariage Freres tea at my writing spot…the handle BROKE, clean off.


I didn’t scream. There are rules of strict silence where I write. But I did stand there, in shock, staring at the handle in my right hand, the cup in my left.

But I’m also really stubborn. So I continued to dry the cup, and made my tea as usual. And drank from the mug as I wrote….and had a good writing day to boot.

I don’t know what this means–I refuse to believe that my revision is at all cursed. My friends have mentioned that this means my creativity is explosive! Or that it cannot be contained. Regardless, it’s my mug, and it still works, and so far, my writing hasn’t been cursed. Also, the pragmatist in me knows that this is the reason the mugs cost all of $2.

And anyway, Randa and I can buy another pair of matching “writing/revising good luck” mugs when she visits NYC. This time, for our revisions.

If I were to continue my superstition: perhaps the Zabar’s mugs were not meant to be used for revision, perhaps they are only for first draft luck. Because hers broke as well, in the same way, as she revised her book.


Filed under Revision, Writing