WATCH: Jewel on Battling Anxiety, Living with Dyslexia and Finding Solace in Philosophy
Episode Three of the Mighty SONG Writers Video Series
This episode continues our video series at Lit Hub to benefit the wonderful Mighty Writers, a Philadelphia-based non-profit that teaches reading and writing to thousands of low-income and marginalized students every year and is seeing more need than ever during the pandemic (head here to learn more). Over the next few months we’ll be asking singer-songwriters about their writing and reading lives—their influences, writing habits, favorite books—and while they’re at, to play us a song or two. Check out episode one, Amanda Shires with Jason Isbell, and episode two with Marcus Roberts.
Today’s installment features the wonderful Jewel talking about her tough upbringing, finding peace in philosophy and poetry, her favorite writers (Nabokov and Steinbeck), and of course, she performs a few songs.
From the episode:
I never thought I’d become a writer, I never thought I’d do this for a living. I had a very difficult time learning to read when I was young—I was undiagnosed with dyslexia. And I moved around a lot, I think we had a different school almost every year. And… that’s hard, right? Moving around, new kids all the time. The dyslexia thing was really hard: I had no idea I was smart, I had no idea… It was all just hard, school was hard, math was really hard.
I ended up having a really amazing teacher—well, a couple—and I ended up being really inspired in eighth grade, because there was a philosophy program and I loved the information so much that I finally just buckled down and just tried to figure out how to get myself to read better. I used an exacto knife and I cut a little teeny line out, just the width of a sentence, and I would lay that over a page in the book and all I could see was one sentence at a time and I would just move it down, and that really helped me clear up my vision, because my eyes saw all the white on the page instead of the black… Because If I saw a whole page of typed print I just kept seeing all the white little squiggles and my brain kept trying to make sense of those patterns and it didn’t try to make sense of the typed patterns.
Feature photo by Dana Trippe.