Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Number 27, Kobolds, and Connections

So, since I have commandeered the 27th of the month on the Mocha Memoirs blog for the next several months, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Jessica Housand-Weaver. I published the thriller, “The Scream of the Siren” with Mocha Memoirs Press and have also published and won awards for various short stories and poetry.

I’m feeling philosophical today, so I’m going to go ahead and discuss the number 27 since this is my
day of the month to titillate you. 27 is just a simple, relatively ordinary number that can’t possibly have anything to do with writing, right? WRONG! I am going to discuss how something like the number 27 can be used to make associations and even get ideas for writing. This should be a license to make manic correlations, brainstorm, and get the creative thought processes going. Everything in our lives, our world, and our relationships are so interlinked in layers upon layers of symbolism and meaning—and it can all be conjured up simply by thinking of a name or a number.

Take the number 27.

The first planetary nebula to ever be discovered is Messier 27, also known as M27, where it blazes 1,360 light years away in the Constellation Vulpecula. In fact, you can see it with binoculars if
you wanted. Those of you who aren’t astronomy fans, bear with me. The M27 is also an Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR) developed for the United States Marine Corps. Totally different M27s here. You are going to get two completely different feelings thinking about M27 the nebula and M27 the automatic rifle.

The magic is that the associations happen in the brain making connections based on context, knowledge, comparisons, and emotions. M27 by itself is just a letter and a number. We attach the significance. In a sense, we even create the objects themselves inside our own heads and determine what they mean to us. (This, of course, has quantum physics implications which I will spare you from in this blog)

This is pretty much the same thing that writers do when they write. Readers do it too as they read. So our brains are communicating and making connections between us across space and time.
Ok, ok. So, what about the number 27 and writing? How can we connect them?

Let me bounce around a bit here. The atomic number for the element Cobalt happens to be 27. If you don’t already know, cobalt is a beautiful blue pigment with a haunting, glasslike hue. It has been used since ancient times for objects such as ceramics, particularly Chinese porcelain, jewelry, and in paints. It also has uses in concrete, magnetics, ophthalmoscopes, as a coenzyme for digesting certain vitamins, and as a metal.

Now here is where it starts to get entertaining. The name for cobalt is based off a goblin from Germanic mythology and folklore called a kobold. Long ago, miners named the blue minerals “kobold ore” because they blamed the goblins for the poisonous, arsenic-containing fumes released during smelting that often polluted the other more desired ore.

Goblins, you say? Now this sounds familiar, something you might read in a fantasy novel. Something a writer might write.

The legends of kobolds describe several different types. One type is a capricious spirit that lives in the home and protects the household. The people living in the home are required to take care of them and feed them. In return, the kobold will help out with chores and even bring wealth. However, if the kobold is neglected or insulted in some way, it will often play a malicious prank on its hosts. Some of the fairytales of people trying to be rid of an annoying kobold are quite humorous.

As mentioned earlier, some kobolds make their home in caves and mines. They are excellent miners but tend to be very tricky and sometimes dangerous for miners to deal with. There is another group of kobold-like traditions associated with those that went aboard ships with the wood used to build them. These kobolds often helped sailors with work or could even save a sinking ship, although they could also become angered if disrespected and reap havoc on the ship.

Besides ancient legends and mythology, kobolds have made their more modern appearances in novels such as “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman and “Protector” by Larry Niven. They have also been made popular in role-playing games with fantasy elements.

The act of writing can be compared to a kobold in a lot of ways. You have to practice, respect, and nurture the skill or all that pent up energy leads to all kinds of less than positive outlets in your life. Believe me, I know.

By the way, all kobold’s aside, 27 is also the number of books in the popular Xanth fantasy series by Piers Anthony. If you are a fan of fantasy fiction, you should definitely read them.

So, hopefully now the number 27 has been given a little more substance. We’ve made some more connections regarding what had, at first, appeared to be just another day of the month. The number 27 now seems a little less ordinary. It has applications to something more than math or a banal date. But really, could I be featured on just any average day of the month? The number had to have significance, had to mean something associated with writing, had to connect us all in some way.

If I wanted to sermonize, I suppose the moral of this blog could be—make the connections and you’ll find a meaning worth sharing.

You can find Jessica's webpage at: for current news and publication information. You can also view her Facebook page at: or follow her on Twitter at: J_HW

You can find her debut thriller, “The Scream of the Siren” at 

Photo credits: <a href="">sofi01</a> / <a href=""></a> / <a href="">CC BY-NC</a> <a href="">Astro Guy</a> / <a href=""></a> / <a href="">CC BY-NC-ND</a> <a href="">mharrsch</a> / <a href=""></a> / <a href="">CC BY-NC-SA</a>

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