The story of “Reading Writing”

I became interested in graphology — handwriting analysis — in my early teens, around the same time I started doing magic. It held my interest for about a decade, then I moved on to other things. It would’ve remained a distant memory if not for a phone call I got in 1991 or 1992.

Hello, Ariel? This is Mark Lewis. How would you like to do graphology readings?”

Hired to do psychic readings at a corporate event, my long-time friend was asked if he knew of any readers who spoke French, since people from Montreal would be attending. Remembering my early interest in graphology — and that I speak French — Mark called me.

With my trademark unflappability, I answered: “Wh-wh-what? ME?!?” It had been so long, I doubted that I could do a credible job. But Mark insisted that I give the matter some thought, so I promised that I would.

I dug out my old books and, sure enough, it all came back to me. I accepted the gig. All I needed was a system, an approach.

Based on the idea that readings are about entertainment and about making people feel good about themselves — and not about providing deep psychological insights, which is the province of professional analyses — I selected a dozen signs that have innocuous interpretations: intuitive vs. logical, showy vs. modest, sociable vs. solitary, etc. Nothing judgemental, negative or embarrassing; just categorizations.

I also wanted the ‘sitters’ to be able to take home the results of the analysis. The standard charts were too complicated, and writing a profile report was too time-consuming, so I created a simple list of categories and printed it, together with contact information, at the bottom of a sheet of writing paper. The sitter would write something in the top part of the sheet, then I would do the analysis and circle the appropriate traits. (Yes, I had re-invented the tick sheet!) Simple, speedy and effective. I was ready.

My first tick sheet, in French

And so I became a graphology reader for a while. It was marvellous. I got paid to spend a few hours essentially talking to people and doing maybe two minutes of actual work for each sitter. People lined up for readings; so much so, in fact, that the first couple of times, I didn’t get a chance to take a bathroom break! Not only was the line interminable, but every time I tried to excuse myself, people actually pleaded with me to stay and do a reading for them.

In the years since I wrote “Card Stories” and started my company, I Saw That!, I thought about my little worksheet occasionally. I knew that it could be useful to the magic and mentalism community, but I didn’t know in what form. Slowly, the idea evolved, from a simple tick sheet template to the complete manual that “Reading Writing” has become.

I present it to you with pride.

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