read vs write

I had a bit of a random thought the other day about reading and writing. I feel like I’ve written a post about this before, but I can’t seem to find it (not that I looked very hard), so please excuse me if you’ve heard this all before. (*Tangent Alert* It’s kind of like when you’ve told a story so many times to so many different people that you forget who you have and haven’t told, and then you kind of have to decide whether or not you want to go ahead and risk re-telling a story that people have already heard before. I know a few people who do this quite a bit, but they’re such fun to talk to, I usually don’t mind, or I’ll just subtly hint that that story sounds familiar…)

I had a conversation with a friend quite some time ago about the relationship between the love of reading and the love of writing. This particular friend loves to read, and reads a lot. I’m pretty much the same. However, she does not like to write, whereas I clearly love to write (I’d assume most people who write blogs like writing too). At the time, I remember thinking this was a bit odd, but I kind of just accepted it because, you know, “each to their own” and whatnot.

In recent weeks, while discovering new food blogs, and watching cooking shows like “MasterChef” and “Everyday Gourmet” and a variety of foodie shows on SBS, I had a thought that maybe the reading/writing relationship could be analogous to the eating/cooking relationship. Eating and reading both feed the soul. Cooking and writing can be such rewarding experiences that enrich the lives of those who undertake these tasks.

If someone likes to eat, and they’ve had delicious meals prepared for them all their life, I’d think it’d be reasonable for them to be inspired to learn to cook and create tastey dishes of their own. Likewise, if someone likes to read, it would not be out of place for them to be inspired to write – right?

I also reckon that people who love to write would also love reading; just as people who love to cook would certainly love to eat. I’ve never met someone who disproves this, but feel free to be the first. So much of cooking is tasting the components of the dish as you prepare it, ensuring everything is balanced, and the flavours are right. So much of writing is re-reading and editing your sentences so that the text flows as it’s intended. It’s hard for me to imagine someone who loves to write but detests reading (it makes me shudder just to think that anyone might detest reading at all, irrespective of their feelings toward writing).

The more I thought about this, the more I realised that the analogy could be expanded to include so many other things. For example, most human beings like music of some variety, but not everyone has an inclination toward singing or playing musical instruments. We can appreciate music (which also feeds the soul, by the way) without having an urge to sing or pick up a guitar or take up piano lessons. However, I don’t think it’s possible for a musician to not like listening to music. The analogy works, right? And it can probably be applied to most performing arts, and art art like paintings and sketches and whatnot.

Perhaps what determines whether you like both the process and the end-product, or whether you appreciate the end-product with minimal interest in the process – perhaps what it all boils down to is inspiration. It just depends on whether or not you reach that magical level of inspiration, where you’re moved to take action. (Sometimes I feel like I’m pretty easily inspired, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it also means there are a lot of things that I want to do.) I could hypothesise that it might also come down to natural talent or affinity, but things like writing, cooking, drawing, etc can all be practised and perfected over time (although generally people seem to prefer doing things that they’re naturally good at).

One last thing – I think reading makes one’s writing better, and writing can improve one’s appreciation of reading. Likewise, eating can help improve one’s cooking, and cooking is likely to enhance the eating experience. Each pair works synergistically.

1158 and other numbers

Today was a good day. I know that today was a good day because, after finishing work more or less on time, I had enough energy and concentration left in me to do some reading all the way home. This is good because usually I’m either too tired or distracted, and cannot focus long enough to read more than a few pages.

Can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this in a previous post already, but my current commute book is “The World According to Garp” (by John Irving). I’m finding it to be a very interesting book so far, to say the least. It’s written quite well – it’s so easy to read – but it’s also incredibly random. More than once I have found myself thinking, “what did I just read…??”

But I’ll write more of a review of it after I’ve finished the full book.

When I was reading it on the bus this evening, I came across the number “1158” in a sentence. For some reason, that tripped me up a bit. I felt like, in that brief second when my eyes scanned over that number, my mind couldn’t decide if it wanted to read it as “one-one-five-eight” or “eleven-fifty-eight” or “one thousand, one hundred and fifty-eight”. The final option sounded better in the context of the sentence (it was about how many pages of manuscript one of the characters had written) but because I’d considered the first two options, I lost a bit of reading momentum.

This is where I almost got distracted and didn’t continue reading. Almost.

I put a mental post-it note on the topic for later revision. What I was interested in wasn’t why I’d considered those first two options (it’s kind of obvious if you know my line of work – I spend all day dealing with numbers in the thousands, and it’s just quicker to read the digits than to read the number in full). What I was interested in was how people say numbers in a certain way.

This kind of relates back to that post from last week about listing things …and also kind of doesn’t. I mean, reading the number “1158” is sort of like reading a list: one thousand, one hundred and fifty-eight. Sure, the order is kind of pre-determined because that’s the order of the digits and whatever. But, theoretically, you could also say “fifty-eight, one hundred and one thousand”. It’s just that no one does that because it sounds weird and is confusing. I suppose it sounds less weird if it’s a two-digit number, such as “one and twenty” (21), and the writing style/context suits it.

But that wasn’t the end of it.

I started thinking about other numbers – mostly about numbers without any “tens” or “ones” (gee, I mustn’t have used those terms since, like, grade two), such as one thousand, five hundred (1500). Why don’t people say “one thousand and five hundred”? If it was 5043, it would be read as “five thousand and forty-three” (the “and” mightn’t be properly enunciated, but it’s still there).

So much to ponder about, so little time. Have to go to bed so I can be awake enough to read on the commute tomorrow.

just a thought…

I was just thinking about food (as per usual) and trying to think of an easy way to consume the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables when a random thought occurred to me: What if there was a sandwich spread that was made from vegetables and could hence count toward the daily vegetable requirement? A simple thing like that could make life so much easier.

Yeah, sure, it probably wouldn’t taste that good, and you’d probably lose quite a bit of nutritional value from all the processing in the production of the spread but, hey, it was just a thought…

Another random thought on an unrelated topic occurred to me a while back, but I’ve been a bit hesitant about publicly publishing it because it might be a little bit controversial…

I think I had this thought on the way to work one morning (the morning commute is a very good time for pondering). On this particular morning, I was thinking about the use of petrol and the imminent depletion of all oil reserves. Then I thought, “What if we just ban (or phase out) all motor sports which involve vehicles that consume petrol?”

To be honest, I don’t follow any motor sports, so I don’t know what eco-friendly initiatives they already have in relation to reducing carbon footprint and resource conservation, etc, etc (yeah, sure, I could have just Googled it and found out for myself, but I’m taking a break from study this week, so that includes studying random things unrelated to my profession). So maybe they’re already doing a lot to minimise their impact on the environment, or maybe they could be doing more – I’m not going to judge that. It was just a thought.

Besides, if I wanted to argue that the world could do without motor sports, then other people could argue that we could do without other petrol-guzzling and/or electricity-consuming leisure activities. And then wouldn’t the world become such a dull place?