Homework for a word worker
June 1, 2018 by Abby Breckenridge
It had been three years and two days since I had read a book for pleasure. I know that with specificity because it had also been that long since my water had broken with my first child. I had read countless parenting books, New York Times articles, food blogs and Pete the Cat books, but I was in an undisputable pleasure-book drought.
Packing up my kids to leave a three-year-old’s birthday party, my girlfriend and mother of the guest of honor handed me a well-pawed copy of Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions. “Have you read this? You should.” I grabbed it, shoved it into my basket of diapers and little jackets and brought it home. Then I read it. And I loved it.
It wasn’t so much that the book itself was amazing (which it was), or that it’s premise of recounting the first year of being a mother was speaking directly to me and my needs (which it did), but that I was reminded of a different way of writing—fresh sentence structures, unexpected vocabulary, alternative ways of getting to a point.
As a marketer, I work in words—drafting, scheming, refining to craft stories long and short that help our clients connect with their audiences. My adventure into Anne Lamott’s world reminded me how important it is for my work—and my wellbeing—to read books for pleasure. My creative instinct gets a refresh when I read pieces written for purposes other than drumming up business.
While my life as a business owner, wife, mom of two littles, home cook and occasional exerciser doesn’t leave me a ton of time for pleasure books, I’ve made it my homework to always be working through something interesting on my nightstand. Right now, I am plugging through David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary, a novel written as an alphabetical series of definitions. It’s blowing my mind and making me better at my job. What’s your homework?