One of the worst things about being a writer is that sometimes you don’t have time to read all the things you want to read. This is bad for so many reasons. Reading makes you a better writer, reading gives you something to write about, and most writers actually like to read and have been reading for pleasure our entire lives.
I used to read a novel every week (or every other week if the novel was slow moving or big). But lately, I haven’t read any novels at all! So, last week I said, “This is no good. I’m reading a novel.” And I picked up The Cradle in the Grave by Sophie Hannah, an author I mentioned in my Best Reads in 2012 post.
(Oh. Another reason a writer might stop reading is because she gets jealous of others’ fabulous writing. This is absolutely the worst reason of all.)
I mention this because I don’t write fiction, and so I don’t get jealous of Sophie Hannah. But man, if I did write fiction I don’t know if I could stand this woman! She is all that and a bag of chips! I’m not even forty pages into the book, and I’m already blown away by her insight and storytelling ability.
In fact, she had me at the Acknowledgements. She wrote—
“For Anne Grey, who introduced me to, among many other invaluable pieces of wisdom, the motto, ‘Take nothing personally, even if it’s got your name on it.’ This dedication is the exception to that generally sound rule.”
Well, I needed to hear this advice, because I tend to take everything personally, and it does me no good. No good at all. It just keeps me tied up in knots, trying to solve problems that don’t even exist.
So, I’ve been consciously trying to develop a thicker skin, because it’s healthier, and then I read Hannah’s statement.
Now, I’m not advocating being deliberately dense, like a certain man I’m married to, who always claims that no matter how mad you say you are at him, SOMETHING else must be going on, it CAN’T be him… (Yes, Ed I really am that annoyed that you got peanut butter in my jar of strawberry preserves. No, this is not REALLY about one of the kids eating the last Oreo...)
So, no, I don’t mean that kind of “not taking things personally.” I mean the kind that has you internalizing things that have nothing to do with you while taking on others’ stuff. That kind.
And so, not only is Hannah providing me a good yarn, she’s given me some totally unrelated wisdom, too.
Reading is fundamental, y’all!