Lucky Number 13, telling a writer to read, and other anomalies

Posted by Jennifer Hatt on 7 June 2014 | 26 Comments

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My precocious character Rose invoked the ire of her Catholic teachers and dismissal of her mother by her insistence that 13 was a lucky number. Why did she have to explain the obvious? Baker's dozen, an extra loaf of bread just in case, in her childhood world there was nothing luckier than that. Then she grew up, and 13 faded to nothing special, no longer on her mind. With me it was reading. I was devouring books long before I started school, I'm told. I was a voracious reader until the teen years. Then reading became a chore for school. After graduation I began my career as a paid writer. Who has time to read then, and why should I? I'm creating my own stories now. 

Wrong choice, for two reasons. Good writers and good readers. Cliche but true. Seeing and abosorbing how other writers create their worlds and transport their readers gives practical hints to ideas. More importantly, reading continues to set flight to the imagination, widens the door to the world, invites in the facts beyond our knowledge and fancy beyond our grasp so we can learn, play, tingle with delight at that perfect turn of phrase or fascinating detail. Like the story of the Baker's dozen, and how in the mind of a child it is good rather than fearful. And how a child's mind fully embraces a stor - doesn't skim or scan or flip to the end, but takes it in word for word, beginning to end. That is what reading used to be for me, before the days of school notes and emails and technical writing for hire. 

So today and every day, my gift to self is to read something. Not for work, not for school, but for the sheer pleasure of absorbing another writer's world. A magazine article, perhaps, or blog post from the heart, or a daily reflection. It's not quantity of words, but quality of experience.

Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow. 


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