Despite the best of intentions, of course, I’m falling behind time with blogging activity already! On Sunday I came back from visiting Mum to discover, on sitting down to the keyboard, that it was National Hat Day. In the USA anyway. That’s a great idea for a blog, thought I – and promptly went off to play Patience (Solitaire across the pond).
But it stayed at the back of my mind because I have two hats in my new study that carry deep meaning for me. So, without further ado, meet my writing hat!
Now I won’t kid you – this is me being a huge fan-girl! 😀 The late, great Terry Pratchett, as some of you regulars may know is a big literary hero of mine – to the point of my now being a regular attendant at Discworld conventions in the UK and Eire. He had a thing for wearing a black (well, a very dark) fedora to his public appearances. After his demise we still have one of his hats on stage for the opening and closing ceremonies, and for interviews with the Discworld worthies.
Out of humility and reverence for his memory – and, yes I admit because a hat seems to be a bit of a wardrobe icon for other bona fide writers as well – I decided that I needed my own fedora(s), not only for fan conventions but also going about my writerly activities as well. So this is my everyday writing hat, which as you can see is not black as I am but a pale imitation of Sir Terry…
Not only does it put me in a writing frame of mind, it’s also a jolly good covering for the cranium, especially during the last couple of cold snaps we’ve had (the central heating was playing up, but can get quite cold in the study when the sun goes to bed)
Now, meet my reading hat!
Also not black. Purplely-grey is nearer to black, though… It is, however, a better quality hat than my writing hat – it has more gravitas and focus. And nicer feathers on it.
This is the hat that I take to Discworld conventions, and, if I ever get more venturesome myself, to public author appearances. But mostly I wear it when I’m reading in the study. It’s still a work hat, though, because I don’t do reading purely for pleasure in the study. No, it’s more to do with research, or for more practical pursuits like mail-order catalogue perusal (aka skiving off, although to be fair, most of my catalogue ‘research’ is to do with spending serious money just now as the house refurbishment rolls ever onwards).
‘OK, Jan. That’s all very well and good, but what the feck has this all got to do with National Hat Day, or where you lay your hat come to that!’ I hear you ask… Well, my dears, I was just coming to that!
Hats are important in the workplace! Security or building occupations come to mind pretty quickly, where hats that can withstand a certain amount of violence to protect the wearer’s skull are vital. Ditto in high impact sports, or cold, wet weather outdoor activities like skiing or sailing where keeping your head warm and dry is important.
‘Yeah, yeah – but what’s a fedora with fancy feathers got to do with actually writing?’
It’s not just the homage you see? Sir Terry didn’t wear his hats when he was working (well, not all the time – maybe his renovated chapel was a bit parky in the winter as well!). No, It’s all about a state of mind I think. A fedora has a certain éclat to start with, and believe it or not was worn by the early suffragettes after Sarah Bernhardt’s hat worn for the play Fédora. It became popular with men too, when Edward VII wore them, instead of the similar homburg style. In more recent times the fedora has also surfaced in pop culture as the hat of choice for Indiana Jones… So, it’s making a statement, kind of.
My work focuses on fantasy in one way or another, subtle or obvious, which is where the feathers come into it. I wanted my fedora to be more feminine. Also purple and green are favourite colours. So, a little bit of surfing took me to websites that sold feather pins or brooches beloved of the huntin’ and fishin’ fraternity, or other exotic bird varieties. The writing hat has bantam and guinea fowl quills and the reading hat sports goose, ostrich, pheasant and black peacock feathers. Aspirational, see? 😉
It’s ‘mood dressing’ in other words. When I wear my hats I’m taking myself off to the wild and woolly places of my imagination, maybe even a little magical. They become symbols that I’m practising my craft – as a writer (and wannabe sorcerer). They really do help me keep warm as well when the frost is hoary, and even the dog doesn’t want to go outside. They’re headgear for internal exploration or prospecting?
And I think I look quite good in them too! 😉