My stupidity with numbers is kind of embarrassing.

Seriously, I still stumble over grade-school multiplication tables. I have to stare at a clock face for several seconds before I can read the time. Algebra? Calculus? Unfathomable.

Numbers, to me, are silent mysteries.

Words, however, have always spoken to me. They speak and whisper and chuckle and tease and all but sing and dance. I can effortlessly recite whole speeches from Shakespeare learned in my theatre school youth. As a novelist, I’m happiest when wordsmithing: no humiliating encounters with math.

So it was with humble amusement that I read recently that John Harrison, the brilliant 18th-century clockmaker/inventor whose revolutionary chronometer solved the ages-old problem of measuring longitude, was a dunce with words.

According to Dava Sobel in her book Longitude, this genius at math could never express himself clearly in writing. “Harrison wrote with the scrivener’s equivalent of marbles in the mouth. His last published work brings his style of endless circumlocution to its peak. The first sentence runs on, virtually unpunctuated, for twenty-five pages.”

I hope that makes you smile. It’s a sweet moral, isn’t it? Stick with what you love.

If you, like me, live with, for, and through words, you know you’re a writer.

Watch my video “5 Telltale Signs You’re a Writerto see if you identify!

All my best,
Barbara Kyle