Back in 2009, I flew out to the Poison Pen Bookstore in Phoenix, AZ for a book signing with Dana Stabenow and she gave me a mug as a door prize. This mug has been my “writing cup” ever since. It’s been a part of my ritual, and I never wasted it on “just coffee,” or “just checking Facebook.” Writers write. Writers drink coffee out of official writing coffee cups.

That was five years ago. I have never regretted spending my accumulated “play money” and marital brownie points on haring off across the continent. At that time, I was almost done with a horrid tome of my first-ever novel, and I felt like rubbing elbows with Dana and fellow Danamaniacs would benefit the thrust of my efforts.

It did!

I’ve read all kinds of books that inspired me to write, but the Kate Shugak series pushed me over the edge. As I was catching up on the fictitious Kate Shugak and her pursuits, revelling in the beauty of Alaska, I was struck with a sudden and pervasive thought:

I want to do that.

Not hunt criminals in the tundra – not that. But write something like that? Maybe I could pull it off after all.

And then I got my writing mug. I was official – I was for real.

In the ripeness of time, the handle on my white-outside, pink-inside mug cracked beyond repair. When you pour hot coffee into your writing mug and both hear and feel a miniscule chink travel through the handle, you know the time has come.

I ordered a new mug, with a new book on it, also by Dana Stabenow. This time it’s white with a green rim and a green handle. The problem is, it wasn’t official.

Would my subconscious know I tried to pass it a mug I bought online?

Would my writerly discipline disappear?

Would it become my – shudder – Facebook mug?

Rituals might feel stupid at times, but if it works, don’t mess with it. I contacted Dana through the Danamaniacs FB fan-page. I explained the situation. I’d quote her exactly if I could find the post on the hot mess that is Facebook nowadays, but she essentially said:

“Consider your new writing mug officially blessed!”

And, she said there is no such thing as a stupid ritual. If it works, go with it.

So I’m going with it.

Check out Dana’s newest release – it’s a beautiful piece of storytelling, this time about the Silk Road:

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