The Importance of Wearing Costumes --- by Jane Kelley

Now that it's October, everybody wants to know:  "What's your costume? Who are you going to be?"

But when I was a kid, I loved wearing costumes all year long. My older cousins sent us a big box of their frilly prom dresses. When I got too old to be the Sun Princess or the Lady of the Moon, I started being in plays. That totally expanded my range. Then I could be a man, a teacher, an old woman or even, as you see in this picture, Mole from The Wind in the Willows. I'm the one on the left. My friend, Wendy Lueker, is Rat. I was very jealous because she got to have a tail!

I loved acting because I was always glad to escape myself. I thought my own life was rather dull. So I did what I could to make it more exciting. I amplified my emotions. I sought conflict. I spent a lot of time pretending to be other people.

In other words, I was getting ready to be a writer.

We put on costumes. We explore what it means to be other people. And when we do that well, we enable our readers to inhabit people too. That's how empathy begins.

Why, just today, as I sat at my desk, I got to be a witch, an evil racist, a bully, a little sister, a mom, an inventor and a boy who loves outer space.

It was so much fun -- especially being the witch.

For the record, she isn't really a witch. People think she is because she lives all by herself in a house at the edge of a woods and she spends all day making creatures.

Sound familiar?

So......who are you going to be?


  1. Ooh, dressing up was so much fun as a kid. I loved transforming into someone else, even for a little while. Even as an adult, I've found it fun when I accompany my husband on one of his 'business' trips and dinners. I remember the time he has to rent a tuxedo and I had to by a gown. We had to attend a ball. Holy...Who attends balls, nowadays??? It was amazingly extravagant. I was like a deer in headlights. So fun!

  2. I don't think we ever outgrow that fun feeling of "pretending" when we are dressed up. You're right Jane, it's great practice for writing.

  3. You're right, Darlene -- but I did outgrow those prom dresses.

  4. I'm going to be myopic Batgirl. ;) I still love costumes!

  5. I sort of feel like the nice, respectable, average middle-aged me people see every single day is a costume disguising a rebelious, smart young person.


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